Binus won’t mess with Charlie

Deisha Tamar Manuhutu, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,After the first highly celebrated play last year, The Fall of Men, on March 6 this year Binus University’s English Department proudly showcased its second annual theater performance: Don’t Mess with Charlie. | Sun, 03/21/2010 4:31 PM

With much anticipation, around 200 people flocked the university’s Anggrek Auditorium. The audience comprised mostly students, lecturers and friends and families of the cast and crew. Tickets sold for Rp 25,000 for regular seats, Rp 35,000 for wing seats and up to Rp 50,000 for VIP seats.

The play was penned by Alex Jhon, a lecturer in the English Department, who also played the main character, Charlie. It was directed by Venantius Vladimir Ivan, who also directed last year’s performance. The play took four months of preparation and was not just another ordinary theater performance. It was a collaborative effort between lecturers and students of the English Department, as the actors and actresses made this play unique and worth watching. Another plus was the accompanying three-piece band of keyboard, contrabass and drum (all played by lecturers), creating harmonious jazz tunes as the running theme.

In the opening act, a student sang. There was also a poetry recital by a lecturer and a student from the department.

The story was reminiscent of Mario Puzo’s famous masterpiece, The Godfather, since it was about the mafia. Set in Chicago in 1942, it revolved around Charlie, a Caucasian 21-year-old man living with his African-American foster family, Mama Jenkin and Bubba. The family runs the Angel Colored Pub. Charlie’s life changes after working with Don Carusso, a mafia bigwig and padrone of the Carusso family.

He sends Charlie on an errand to deliver a letter to Bruno Poppoli, a notorious butcher who works for the rival Visconsi family. Unaware of the high risk of the job, Charlie completes the task. Bruno, in anger, goes to the Angel Colored Pub and beats up Bubba, Charlie’s mentally handicapped brother. Things go gangster from there, with Bruno and his henchmen eventually shot dead by Charlie.

Mama Jenkin then tells Charlie to skedaddle – not just from the mafia, but from a secret regarding Charlie’s true identity. After Bruno’s death, Visconsi goes to see Mama Jenkin and the truth is revealed though their conversation: Charlie is Visconsi’s son from the late Anita, Mama Jenkin’s best friend. He demands custody of Charlie, but Mama Jenkin isn’t having any of that.

What neither of them knows, though, is that Don Carusso’s wife, Emilia, is up to no good and eavesdropping. She concocts a wicked plan to make her husband the No. 1 padrone in Chicago, the capo di tutti capo. She finds Charlie, lies to him that Visconsi killed his mother and convinces him to kill Visconsi. Though the plan seems perfect, it backfires on the Carussos after Visconsi is able to de-brainwash Charlie and fill him in on the truth.

Together they make their way to the Angel Colored Pub, where a gunfight has just broken out. Henchmen from both families are killed, as is Emilia, while Charlie, Visconsi and Mama Jenkin save their last bullets for Carusso.

The play ends with a curtain call and Charlie sitting in a chair, telling the audience how a few years after the events transpired he became the head of all the mafia families in Chicago, with his own henchmen and backing from his father, Visconsi.

The writer is student of English Department, Binus University

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