Do the Hustle at Writers’ Theatre | Theater review
Brett Neveu’s small but specific new play about small-time father-and-son con artists is remarkably clever and impeccably acted.
Neveu’s small, specific new story centers on smallest-time con artist Eddie Sisson (Guinan) and his almost 18-year-old son Sam (Andrews), Eddie’s restless partner in crime who’s itching for a bigger cut. The playwright toggles between the duo’s con scenarios (with Minoso and Woditsch as their various victims) and off-duty scenes between father and son, where we see Eddie alternately trying to toughen up his son and keep him close.
The twisty con scenes are as cleverly written as they are staged. Neveu uses them to keep us guessing at plot points as much as at Eddie and Sam’s next play. Woditsch and Minoso are both terrific as the variety of targets; Woditsch in particular is heartbreaking in a scene as Sam’s absent, strung-out mother. But it’s the scenes between Eddie and Sam that impress the most. Both Neveu and Brown are remarkably willing to indulge long, naturalistic silences between these two tricksters negotiating a delicate point in their relationship, and Guinan and Andrews—who established a similar rapport last season as Donny and Bobby in Steppenwolf’s American Buffalo—are extraordinarily in tune. There’s a natural tension in watching the pair’s hustles, but the tension between them is even stronger. Ultimately, Sam has to decide how willing he is to con himself.