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Theater Review: Monsters of the American Cinema

Logan Leonardo Arditty and Kevin Daniels in Monsters of the American Cinema. Photo by John Perrin Flynn.

Playwright Christian St. Croix has created a deeply felt portrait of a family torn apart and putting itself back together again. Incorporating the metaphor of monsters into a story with love and acceptance as its main messages, Monsters of the American Cinema is a compelling and satisfying theater experience.

Remy Washington (Kevin Daniels), a Black man, was married to a White man and co-parenting their adopted straight, White, teenaged son, Peter “Pup” Miller (Logan Leonardo Arditty). The husband’s death makes Remy sole caregiver, as well as the owner of a drive-in movie theater that shows monster movies.

As both struggle with grief and what-ifs, Remy and Pup try to find a path through their new reality. Alternating monologues reveal inner fears and deepen the audience’s connection to the characters.

Rogue Machine Theatre’s artistic director John Perrin Flynn directs this production with a steady hand, juggling the extensive projections and soundscape with deeply felt and expressed emotions.

Projection designer Michelle Hanzelova-Bierbauer, along with scenic designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, lighting designer Ric Zimmerman and sound designer Chris Moscatiello, create a deliciously immersive experience. The eerie—and sometimes kitschy—images and sounds of classic American monster movies—punctuate St. Croix’s moving script.

The tagline of Monsters of the American Cinema is: Humans are the worst monsters. And indeed, when Remy learns that Pup and his friends have been bullying a gay teen, it feels monstrous. The ensuing grappling with the internal and external monsters take this play to a higher level. The two actors give deeply felt emotional and physical performances that are endearing marvels.

Rogue Machine Theatre’s Monsters of the American Cinema runs through May 19 at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave. Show times are Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm. General admission tickets are $35; Friday offers a less expensive option. Tickets can be purchased here.

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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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