Hellz Kitchen Ablaze is a Tarantino want-to-be play about a group of New York narcotics officers who come together in an old warehouse in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York to mourn an officer who was killed in a drug raid, but really to divvy up the spoils from the raid. Most of the officers are Italian and many of them racist, but they must depend on a black officer (well played by Tim Sparks) to retrieve the money. Suspicion breaks out that one of their number may be a traitor working for the “good guys.” Lots of paranoia, tension, racism, and old hatreds emerge to make an explosive evening of theatre.
Chief among the Italians is Detective Carmine Camagitello, who is having relationship problems. I don’t think you could get more authentic than the actor Michael Camacho, who acts and sounds like a real Italian. Charles Taylor is Detective Stromboni Fontagredda, the real racist of the bunch. Gary Werntz plays Jewish detective Michael Mishkeno and acts as a calming center. The most volatile and most paranoid is Detective Bossano Hemed, played with intensity and humor by Phil Parolisi. Stefan Lysenko plays Camacho’s partner, Detective Marion L’Arena. Good-looking Jay Duncan plays the quiet latecomer Detective White. Robert Mangiardi is terrific as the organizer of the profit sharing, Detective Espuchiano. Lisa London plays Fawn, an unfortunate whore dragged into the action.
When the money finally arrives all hell breaks loose. The direction is by David Fofi, one of LA’s best upcoming directors. He keeps the snappy dialogue by playwright Tommy Carter crackling. The play works very well until there is a device to delay the action by getting a pizza once they have the money. Given the level of paranoia and excitement, who's going to wait around for a pizza? In the end there are dead bodies and betrayals galore.
The production played at the Elephant Stageworks Theatre and is looking to transfer. This run started on January 7th and ran until Feb 7th.