by Kelly L. Miller
GRIFTER: One who lives by her wits instead of by force. Also known as a con artist.
You’ve never met a family quite like the Kwans. Grifters by nature. Con artists by choice. They’re a family of hustlers, united only by their common love of executing a good con.
That is, until daughter Blue tries to pull off the job of a lifetime: to steal the world’s most valuable comic, then sell a copy to an unwitting investor for millions.
Everything is set. But when Blue is ready to make the sale, she’s betrayed by her own brother, Henry (or H), and forced to call in the only people she still trusts to get the comic back—her brother, Francis, and her mother, Mable, the greatest grifter of them all.
Grifters never “break code”—or betray their own crew during a job. And being grifted by your brother is even worse. But H was desperate to repay a gambling debt—and now Blue will do anything to find him, and to restore her reputation. Even crew up with her dysfunctional family.
“Carla Ching’s Fast Company is a hustler/grifter tale with so many twists and turns that it keeps you guessing all the way to the end,” says South Coast Repertory Artistic Director Marc Masterson. “Carla is a rising young talent in the American theatre and we are excited to be producing her world premiere.”
Her step-brother, Francis, is an illusionist, who performs grand-scale magic for the masses, like David Blaine. He is a natural-born “roper,” who comes out of retirement to help Blue.
And then there’s Mable, the greatest “Inside Man” who ever lived—a versatile player, able to run any position in a con. But she’s also a tyrannical matriarch, who’s always been the hardest on Blue, refusing to teach her the family trade she desperately wanted to learn.
Blue has had to work her way up, running small cons in B-market towns, learning the rules of the game on her own. She has the best cover of them all: a college student at an Ivy-league school.
To find H and to get the comic book back, they’ll have to use a combination of classic cons, psychological persuasion and Blue’s new secret weapon—Game Theory. Blue is a math major at Brown, where she’s working to invent a whole new kind of con.
Carla Ching’s Fast Company is a fun, fierce new comedy about the nature of loyalty, the dysfunction of family, and the art of learning who to trust when everyone’s on the make. It’s also a suspenseful con caper, full of twists and turns, manipulation and magic.
Ching cites multiple sources, when asked about her inspiration for Fast Company, including the original Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Foundation commission that funded the play. But ultimately, she returns to family: “I was interested in what parents think they are teaching their children versus what children actually learn from their parents.”
She says: “I wanted to explore the idea of a family of kids who were raised to have a unique skill set by their grifter mother—to be criminals, essentially. I wanted to see if those gifts could be re-appropriated and used in different ways. I feel like so many of us have gifts that could be used for ill and that we choose how to use them. I wanted to explore that question—if you had a gift where you could make a lot of money or get people to bend completely to your will, would you use it for self-gain or for greater good?”
Meet the cast or dig deeper on the website