Gender Politics Throws a ‘Pizza’ Party

by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@TheFirstEcho)

PHOTO CREDIT: Grafton Doyle

The #TimesUp movement is stealthily trickling down into the Los Angeles theater scene, and the proof is in the recent premiere of playwright Darlene Craviotto’s Pizza Man,  a dark comedy set in the 1980s that attempts to play with gender roles within the often tricky discussion of sexual politics.

Director Jamie Lou stages the action within an actual Hollywood loft for an “immersive and interactive performance” that puts the audience directly in the story. Pizza Man stars Emma Chandler as the beer-and-rum-guzzling Julie, who just lost her job after being sexually harassed by her boss, and Raleigh West as her roommate Alice, who just got dumped by the married man she was dating for 11 months. And since misery loves company, the two women find themselves sulking and sliding into a lengthy, late-night discussion about how horrible men can be. This leads to a plot of “revenge on the entire opposite sex” that soon involves the unsuspecting pizza delivery guy (Freddy Giorlando) who shows up on their doorstep.

PHOTO CREDIT: Grafton Doyle

Presented by Pop Up Theater, Inc., the group behind immersive live shows that take over local L.A. venues, Pizza Man is the second play of their 2017-2018 season that should enjoy a successful run given its timely subject matter and innovative use of space. And a note to the men in the room: be sure to stretch your legs during intermission — not for the 80s-inspired snacks (Tab!) and nostalgic music videos (hey, Tears for Fears) — but for some interaction with other actors who have been planted in the audience for a little thematic role play.

As for the cast, Chandler and West have fun reveling in the hot-messiness of their characters, particularly West, who brings some endearing qualities to the neurotic Alice. Chandler, meanwhile, transforms her Julie from self-pity wallower to potential future Women’s Marcher after an obligatory a-ha moment in the second act. And then there’s Giorlando, nicely balancing his titular role with boyish charm and loser lameness. Though not quite as dark as one may expect from a dark comedy, Pizza Man delivers (pun intended) enough shock with its laughs to make for a delightful alternative theater experience.

PIZZA MAN runs through Saturday, February 24 at The Loft in Hollywood. Check here for showtimes and ticket info.

About The Author

Hiko Mitsuzuka
Entertainment Editor-at-Large

Hiko Mitsuzuka is a self-proclaimed pop culture connoisseur who resides in L.A. and obsesses over songs months before everyone else obsesses over them. He has worked in TV and commercial production ever since he left his native New York in the early 00s. He has worked at the world-renowned Anonymous Content and Carsey-Werner and freelanced as a treatment writer for award-winning directors as well as a contributing writer for 'Instinct.' In addition to writing about entertainment and travel for 'Bello,' Hiko can currently be seen in the roles of Manager of Creative Planning at Stun Creative (PromaxBDA's North America Agency of the Year, 2013, 2014, 2017), film critic for ScreenPicks.com, and contributor for The Huffington Post. He's also currently working on the novel 'Slasher Movie Girl.' His obsessions include quoting old sitcom dialogue and stalking people on Instagram. His vices include chocolate chip cookies and movie theater popcorn. Tweet him @TheFirstEcho.

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