photo: Courtesy Great Minds Creative Productions
photo: Courtesy Great Minds Creative Productions
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Get. That. Snitch.

Reviewed by Jenny Lower
Great Minds Creative Productions at Atwater Village Theatre
Through Nov. 1

Like most of the gangsters it features in its slick, style-obsessed production at the Atwater Village Theatre, Get. That. Snitch., the debut effort of Great Minds Creative Productions, talks a big game. But like the “very bad men” who one by one fall to their knees in a pool of their own gore, eliciting little more than a shrug from their colleagues, it proves surprisingly slight.

Directed by Andrew Pilmer, Get. That. Snitch. feels like the work of a college sophomore who would rather be watching Reservoir Dogs, and that may be true. Playwright Achilles Capone (an apparent pen name that telegraphs the degree of subtlety and machismo forthcoming) claims his script, which received a student production at USC, was born of watching too many Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie flicks and too much “boring” theater. By which he presumably means productions with too few cinematic flourishes, firearms, and caustic one-liners.

Though Get. That. Snitch. is unquestionably derivative—a fact Capone makes no attempt to conceal in his program note—it wouldn’t be so bad if it could get out of its own way. Instead, a femme fatale type who casually and, without irony, informs us that she is the devil (Michelle Chaho) keeps interrupting the action, freeze frame-style, to give us the Christian name, nickname, criminal resume and winking commentary for each of a dozen bad guys. We’re informed of the onset of rising action, and the use of the title phrase by two characters simultaneously—neither is allowed to pass unremarked upon.

Chaho is not the problem with the production—she’s just playing to the hilt the role she’s been dealt, and she seems to be having a blast doing so. Rather, having flaunted its destination from the beginning, the play has only its journey there to trade on. And in a post-Usual Suspects, post-Game of Thrones world, Snitch is neither as clever nor as shocking as it wants to be. That letdown would only be disappointing if not for some distasteful characterizations of pidgin-speaking Chinese gangsters and the smug, self-satisfied tone that permeates the whole.

Encouragingly, there is some real talent represented onstage. The technical elements, including Philip W. Powers’s lighting design, Victoria Tam’s desolate warehouse set and Sheiva Khalily’s comic book-style projections, speak to a professionalism and financial resources that may shore up Great Minds in the long run.

In today’s climate of endangered 99-seat theater, it takes a certain bravery, or bravado, to launch a new theater troupe. Here’s hoping that in the next go-around, all this youthful fervor gets channeled into a more worthy vessel.

Great Minds Creative Productions at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village, Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Nov. 1. Running time: 85 minutes, no intermission.