Theatre Review: Topdog/Underdog

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, February 4, 2008

Maybe you’ve seen street entertainers in a big city playing three card monte – two black cards, one red. Place a bet, pick the red card, and you win. Pick a black card, and you lose. A guy with fast hands, who runs the game, can make easy money. But he can also get robbed and shot. In “Topdog/Underdog,” two guys discuss the risk.


These two guys are brothers living in a shabby room littered with liquor bottles and empty boxes that once held takeout Chinese food. They’re also broke, so the cards are tempting.


Whether or not to pull the con is the wedge that reopens deep seated rivalry between these siblings. Old grudges resurface, and manipulation comes into play. This drama is a dark duet, a well-told tale that becomes more compelling with each scene. Actors Hassan El-Amin and Adrian Roberts make it even better by pushing each other’s buttons and raising the tension, taking the show to a riveting climax.

Topdog/Underdog plays at the Sacramento Theatre Company through February 17th.