Early on in Get. That. Snitch., a world premiere production currently playing at the Atwater Village Theatre, the narrator proclaims it is a story of “men, guns, and getting what you want.” The subtitle is “the world’s most dangerous play,” the producers offer complimentary earplugs, and there’s a warning posted about the loud sound effects and graphic content the play contains. Naturally, this leads you to expect a lot of action sequences, violence, and fake blood. While all of that is delivered in well-executed spades, Get. That. Snitch.‘s real surprises lie in the truly surprising plot twists and commentary on human greed.
Written by Achilles Capone and directed by Andrew Pilmer, the play, produced by Great Minds Creative Productions, starts out as relatively straightforward. It’s primarily about double-crossing gangsters—and I truly mean that nearly everyone is double-crossing everyone else. There is, of course, a titular snitch, although by the end of the play you start to wonder whom the title is actually referring to. The aforementioned narrator (Michelle Chaho) is literally the Devil, who guides the audience through the proceedings while looking on and drinking copious amounts of red wine. The entire thing has a fun noir feel, and I was truly caught off-guard by some of the plot twists, in particular one towards the end.
The writing is funny—I laughed out loud numerous times, and Capone did a good job of incorporating running jokes. What really makes this play special, however, is its action sequences and special effects. It is not easy to do action and gore well onstage—it is difficult to make it look convincing without the post production magic of TV and film. I was impressed by how first-rate the production value was when it came to the numerous fight sequences, which were expertly choreographed by Micah Watterson. Even in a very small theater, it felt very realistic, and the audience (myself included) visibly jumped and audibly reacted many times. I caution prospective audience members to take the warning posted in the lobby and the playbill seriously—if you are easily startled by fake gunshots, this is probably not the play for you. The show also made really fun use of projections, which were not overdone or overwhelming and just subtle enough to enhance the campy, noir feel.
The cast, which was entirely male aside from Ms. Chaho, embodied their roles, many of which were intentionally caricaturesque, to great effect. The gangsters all had funny nicknames—Jerry Midas (Christopher Loverro), Pretty Pete (Kristofer Gordon), Jack Thrash (Sean Gallagher), and, my personal favorite because it led to some of the funniest jokes in the play, Bobby the Peach (Paul Stanko). With a cast of 12 overall, both the production and the plot are a bit complicated, but all you really need to remember to keep up is that every character is probably backstabbing at least one of the others. Everything builds to a climactic, very bloody showdown as the Devil cackles with delight from above.
As mentioned, the complicated and impressive production aspects are definitely the defining feature of this play. In the show’s quieter, less violent moments, the themes of greed, control, and betrayal begin to shine through, although I never felt I got a clear enough picture of the characters’ motivations for this to be explored as thoroughly as it could have been. The show does, however, push the envelope in terms of what is possible onstage, bringing a very cinematic feel to a small performance space. The degree of planning and coordination that must have gone into a production this messy (literally) and complicated is daunting to think about, and I give Mr. Pilmer’s direction a lot of credit for bringing it all together. All in all, Get. That. Snitch. is a fun theater experience that pushes boundaries and genuinely surprises, in more ways than one.
Get. That. Snitch. also stars John Mead, Benjamin Cramer, Jeffrey Levine, Paul Parducci, Mick Torres, Justin Chien, and Wilky Lau. It runs through November 1st with performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday matinees. Tickets are $25 ($18 for students with discount code “Ambition” and a student ID) and can be purchased at https://greatminds.tixato.com/buy/get-that-snitch.