‘Mid Life Gangster’ Testifies on the Fringes
Evan “Bullet” James’ Mid Life Gangster – Redemption Song tells the often harrowing tale of his road from broken home to addiction to recovery. It is an onstage prequel to the recently released film of the same title. This 90 minute solo show was performed with gusto driven by James’ dedication to drug and alcohol intervention. Despite his Hollywood pedigree, James is no silver spooned punk. He possesses real street cred, as is initially evidenced when he opens the show with some of the best white boy gangsta dancing I’ve ever seen. His dad, Bruce Malmuth, directed Stallone in Nighthawks (1981) and Segal in Hard to Kill (1990) and exuded a formidable presence. Once at a chicken joint in Harlem, he backed off a massive ruffian who cut the line in front of him and a young Evan. He describes his Viking of a dad as a cross between Ernest Hemingway and Joe Frazier, a true poet-pugilist. Their relationship is marked by Bruce’s tough brand of fatherly love and their storyline produces some of the most memorable moments in this production.
Mid Life Gangster – Redemption Song makes compelling theatre because it combines pacing, presence and passion to tell an honest story. Within the context of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, James’ show was given a shot to be fleshed out and performed in front of an audience. James inherits his dad’s imposing charisma and dominates the small Flight Theater at The Complex in Hollywood. Frank Conn’s dynamic staging is executed confidently and intently. Every movement and word was performed with gravitas. Nothing in the show was a waste of time.
The script is an honest testimonial of his road to recovery, but could use some dramaturgic assistance. Despite this, what makes Mid Life Gangster – Redemption Song a real treat is James’ passionate commitment to serve others as an extreme interventionist. His company, Universal Crisis Intervention includes missing person investigation and recovery among its services and claims to have, “managed some of the most complex, high-profile drug, alcohol, sexual addiction, gang, missing persons, and cult intervention cases in the world.” It is work that requires conviction and discipline. James is blue collar at heart and brought both of these traits to the show.
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Mid Life Gangster – Redemption Song
Written by and Starring: Evan “Bullet” James
Directed by: Frank Conn
Complex in the Flight Theatre
6472 Santa Monica Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90038
Additional information available at the Hollywood Fringe Festival website.