THE PITCH - Madnani Theater (formerly The Lex)

Reviewed by Amanda Callas

The Pitch at the Madnani Theater in Hollywood is Mamet's Glengarry, Glen Ross for a new generation. This play has humor, heart, and edge. The intimate Madnani Theater, with no division between the stage and the seating, thrusts the audience right into the action of a telemarketing boiler room circa 2006 where hyped up salespeople sell inferior electronic components.

Playwright, lead actor and producer Tom Alper based The Pitch on some true-life experiences, working as a salesman in a similar environment, and the veracity and authenticity of the characters and the dialogue is immediate. Alper expertly plays a man in defeated mid life, whose life has been inexorably slipping away from him. After the death of his wife, everything seems to have fallen apart, his finances, his sense of direction, his relationship with his teen daughter, played with wit and tenderness by Auden Wyle. A desperate need for cash, fast, brings him to his first telemarketing job at a sleazy outfit.

The aggression, despair, ooze, and slime of the sales room are palpable. The set design of the desks is wondrously realistic, cluttered with mouthwash, dirty mugs, baby powder, baseballs, action figures, and grimy detritus, the salesmen's personalities evident in the particular tone of their mess. The whiteboard announces their sales figures plus their nicknames: Skunk, The Kid, Ricky Ray, Scramby. Actors Orion McCabe, Connor Killeen, Omar Salazar, and Phil Gibbs inhabit their characters with total commitment, as varied abrasive, cagey, eccentric loudmouths, feral, broken, and oddly lovable. As we learn over the course of The Pitch, their failures have brought them here, their crushed sports dreams, their broken families, their alcoholism and vices, and here they find a kind of comfort, a kind of rough family. The amiable mafia-type boss is played to perfection by Joseph Lorenzo. The affection the production has for this band of abrasive, swindling misfits is one of its great charms. The direction by  "ER" veteran Louie Liberti is compelling and spot on.

The Pitch has many juicy moments and thrilling twists and turns in the plot, which I don't want to spoil. One of the most memorable performances is actor William Warren as a vengeful IRS agent, whose silky demeanor and iconoclastic butterscotch voice cushion his menace. William Warren's impossibly good timing, exhilarating villainy, and extravagant comedic sense are sublime. His performance is nothing short of genius. The IRS scene is a standout, one of the funniest, most thrilling scenes in the play - although as we learn later, nothing in this scene is quite as it seems.

Suffice it to say, you will be surprised by the ending, and The Pitch is a twisty journey well worth taking.

Madnani Theater, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038.                            Runs through July 23rd. Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm

Admission: $20. Online tickets:        Estimated running time: 110 minutes. One 10-minute intermission. Street parking.

Posted By DH Magazine on July 04, 2023 03:53 pm | Permalink