Review: “The Heist” at the Hudson Guild Theatre

Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

Last month, I had the opportunity of seeing All the Kings Horses, a relatively short but brilliant drama at Shetler Studios’ Bridge Theatre which revolved around the highly important issue of domestic violence. It was just the most recent work from the prolific writer/director Pamela Scott, who is clearly keeping busy this summer, as she immediately followed it up with the return of a previously produced, critically acclaimed one-act, now playing at the Hudson Guild Theatre as part of the New York Theatre Festival’s 2018 NYSummerfest.

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Unlike her last play which I saw, The Heist has a far more comedic and irreverent tone, as two robbers (portrayed by Mike Backes and Gregg Prosser) attempt to rob a church, only to find two men dressed as priests (portrayed by Andy McCain and Jason Asher) that they are forced to tie up, leaving the robbers with the dilemma: Do they kill the priests and risk going to Hell, or do they let them live and risk them telling the police about their attempted robbery? The situation inevitably leads to some hysterical banter between not just the two crooks, but also between the two priests, and also between all four of them!

Over the course of roughly 30 minutes, the audience is treated to some very witty and entertaining back and forths between all of these characters, as the crooks ponder the possibility of seeking forgiveness, to avoid being reported to the cops. At the same time, the two priests wonder whether they should still tell the police about a previously witnessed murder of a security guard (briefly portrayed by Mark Montalbano) or decide it’s better to let it go so they won’t get shot. Through it all, I found myself laughing at various moments, from beginning to end.

I admit that I have a soft spot for comedies that poke fun at religion, in a way that is clever and farcical, while also being able to appeal to both the religious and the non-religious, and this play does exactly that, in a way that I’ve often found lacking from shows I’ve reviewed over the past year or so. I also particularly enjoyed the plot twist toward the end, where we realize that the priests who have been tied up aren’t exactly who they seem to be, at first glance. As of this review, there’s still one more performance left during its short run as part of the NYSummerfest, so if you love a good dark comedy that satirizes religion, check it out while you still can!

 

“The Heist” runs at the Hudson Guild Theatre as part of the New York Theatre Festival’s 2018 NYSummerfest from September 6th-9th. For more information, please visit www.newyorktheaterfestival.com/the-heist.