“Somewhere in the middle of THE DEAL you start to get a prickly feeling on the back of the neck, the uncomfortable sensation that someone, somewhere, is watching you. That’s how real and disquieting Matthew Witten’s drama is.” –LA Herald Examiner
The west coast premiere of THE DEAL, the last show produced at the Back Alley in 1989, told the story of two FBI agents in the field in need of a conviction, a politician on the take, and a local politician caught in the trap. Sound familiar today?
The LA Times called it a stylish production with replays of scenes on audio tape and flash freeze frames. Directed by Allan, it was tautly acted by Michael Cavanaugh, John M. Jackson, Will Nye and Charles Siebert. In an interview with Matt, who was 32 at the time, the LA Times said, “On one level it’s a topical thriller, a drama about greed and entrapment drawn from today’s headlines. But on a deeper level it’s a morality tale of trust and deceit, an even-handed examination of the bonds of friendship and the bounds of professional ethics.”
One set, four actors. International City Theatre in Long Beach liked it so much they hired Allan to direct it again a few years later.
Rick Rosenthal of Whitewater Films (“Bad Boys” and “Transparent” among other projects), optioned THE DEAL for film and I worked with him and Matt to turn it into a screenplay. It never got made but Rick did direct and produce another screenplay by Matt, “Drones.” Matt went on to become a prodigious writer of TV shows like “House (45 episodes!)” and “Law & Order”; the Jacob Burns mystery series and as of 2023 has embarked on a new adventure writing thriller novels.
When we struck the set for THE DEAL, we also struck the theatre itself, pulling out the seats, risers, lights, even the cabling from the walls. Everything went, and the building would never be a theatre again. We moved out and on.