Bowdoin’s Masque and Gown performed four showings of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play Den of Thieves last weekend.
Directed by Jenni Stobiecki ’13, Den of Thieves follows four people who must come to terms with their respective addictions, shortcomings and faults when they are caught attempting to rob a TriBeCa disco. Tied to chairs in a mobster’s basement, they must decide who among them most deserves to die in reparation for their crimes.
The play uses the characters’ dialogue to explore stereotypes in a way that is both accessible and entertaining.
“It is not politically correct. It is not polite,” notes the playbill. It is this honest dialogue that makes the production unconventional, funny and poignant.
“We hadn’t done a true comedy in so long,” said Stobiecki. “There’s been so many discussions about racial stereotypes and gender stereotypes, and this play deals entirely with stereotypes.
“I thought it was an interesting piece for the time we are in,” she added.
A large part of Den of Thieves’ appeal lies in that it deals with today’s issues with a modern vocabulary. The characters aren’t afraid to curse or be crass, an attribute that lead actress Anna Morton ’15 sees as a strength.
“I think we did a good job doing [Den of Thieves] in a way that would be well received by the school,” she said.
The story centers around Morton’s character Maggie, a recovering kleptomaniac and compulsive eater trying to regain her grasp on life.
“I was kind of playing it like this is the moment when she is really starting to change things,” said Morton, “but then she gets caught up in this big robbery.”
Jared Littlejohn ’15 played the dynamic—yet also deadpan—role of Paul.
“Paul is a former 400-lb, compulsive overeater slash thief who wanted to turn his life around and is now a 12-Step Program leader,” said Littlejohn. “His character is trying to help Maggie achieve those 12 steps and turn her life around.”
This rehabilitation falls apart when, deluded by the promise of life-changing wealth, Paul and Maggie become tangled in Flaco’s (her ex-boyfriend’s) plan to rob a disco. The plan goes horribly awry when the three miscreants and Flaco’s new girlfriend Boochie are apprehended by the incompetent fledgling mobsters Little Tuna and Sal.
Since the four main actors spend half the play tied to chairs in a dingy basement, Stobiecki made an interesting aesthetic choice. She seated the audience on the stage, only a few feet from the actors.
Otherwise, “the overall effect wouldn’t have been the same,” she said. “It would be really hard to do [the play] in the normal seating because you wouldn’t necessarily be up in the action, you wouldn’t get that claustrophobic feeling of being in a basement. Putting [the audience] on the stage helped with that intimate feeling that we wanted.”
“It was a really interesting experience to have the audience onstage with us,” said Littlejohn. “It allowed for us to do more.”
Den of Thieves proved delightful to all audience members, with the colorful language that coaxed laughs from from students and Brunswick locals alike.
For more drama productions at Bowdoin, be sure to catch Quake, which goes up on February 28, March 1, and March 2 at 7 p.m. in Wish Theater, as well as The Good Swimmer on March 2 at 9 p.m.