“Do the Hustle” Examines the Emotional Life of Con Artists

This nerve-jangling, otherworldly world premiere travels deep into the emotional desperation of people who exist on society’s fringes.

 

Illinois playwright Brett Neveu gets into the rhythmic thinking of those who survive by conning others.

Aged street hustler Eddie Sisson (played with emotional vibrancy by esteemed Steppenwolf Theatre veteran Francis Guinan) has one last shot at a big payday. Unfortunately, the procuring of this stolen fortune involves the extreme betrayal of a former loved one and depends on the compliance of Sisson’s protege and son, Sam. The volatile Sam (a snappish, complex Patrick Andrews) has overreaching ambitions of his own, though, and the layered, antagonistic history between father and son may eventually prove to be Eddie’s downfall.

Director William Brown skillfully maneuvers the many surprising twists in Neveu’s script with simplicity and stylish realism, allowing audience members to enter into a world of foreign currency with total commitment. Brown also brings out the best in stars Joe Minoso and the extremely powerful Karen Janes Woditsch, who portray multiple characters affected by the duplicity of the Sisson team.

With most of the show anchored by Eddie’s poetry-tinged monologues, Neveu’s quick, silent ending is abrupt, but Writers’ Theatre should be commended for their unveiling of this challenging, far reaching new piece.

The fast paced, 90-minute Do The Hustle runs through March 20 at Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. Tickets are $45-$65 and can be purchased online at writerstheatre.org or by calling 847-242-6000.