Monsters of the American Cinema Review – Haunting and Humorous

Kevin Daniels in MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA - Photo by Jeff Lorch
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Described by the San Diego Union-Tribune as “one of the nation’s fastest-rising playwrights, thanks to his ability to write multidimensional characters with wry humor and truth,” Christian St. Croix penned MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA inspired by real-life events. To quote St. Croix, “My best friend is a super funny, cooler-than-thou, biracial Black trans man…My best friend’s son is also funny and cool, but his skin is as white as his other parent’s. Over the years, my best friend has struggled with addition. It got especially bad for him when his son turned fifteen, and he asked if I could take in the kid while he dealt with his problems.” And so the seeds were planted which would result in the award-winning play.

Logan Leonardo Arditty and Kevin Daniels – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Director John Perrin Flynn noted that “I read perhaps 100 plays a year. Of those 100, only a very few, usually only 2 or 3, are worth considering for Rogue Machine…When I read Christian St. Croix’s MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA, I knew I had found a must-do. He doesn’t just break the rules, he reinvents them. This marvelous writer tells a familiar story in a remarkable new way that has us falling in love with his characters and hoping they will find a better world for themselves and all of us.” With that said, it is no wonder the Rogue Machine proudly presents MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA, recipient of the 2021 Carlo Annoni International Drama Award,

Logan Leonardo Arditty and Kevin Daniels – Photo by Jeff Lorch

The place is the Good Time Drive-In in Santee, California; and the time is the present. When his husband dies, Remy Washington (Kevin Daniels), black and gay, finds himself the owner of a drive-in movie theater and a caregiver to his late husband’s straight, white teenage son Pup (Logan Leonardo Arditty). The two don’t seem to have much in common – until they discover their mutual love for monster films. That connection has resulted in a warm and caring familial relationship – until Remy discovers that Pup and his friends have been gay bashing a teen at Pup’s school. To paraphrase a current television show, “What Would You Do?”

Logan Leonardo Arditty and Kevin Daniels – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Flynn helms the production with compassion and humor as Remy and Pup work out the details of their relationship. Both haunting and humorous, MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA carefully examines what constitutes a father/son relationship while also exploring issues of discovery, resilience, grief, and where the true monsters lie. Kudos to Daniels and Arditty, who manage to breathe life into their complex, intense, and often very funny characters. St. Croix’s approach suggested that he may have been thinking of musical composition – but using words – as the two characters engage in duets and other typically operatic techniques to achieve harmony. The production team does a bang-up job of creating a moody set courtesy of Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, coupled with Ric Zimmerman’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound (as well as some original music).

Kevin Daniels and Logan Leonardo Arditty – Photo by Jeff Lorch

MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA will definitely appeal to creatives, as well as to folks interested in father/son dynamics and how they function in times of stress. This is an entertaining, enchanting, and often amusing play with a strong positive slant.

Kevin Daniels, Playwright Christian St. Croix, Logan Leonardo Arditty, and Director John Perrin Flynn at the reception – Photo by Elaine L. Mura

MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA runs through May 19, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (no performances on 4/8 and 5/13). The Rogue Machine performs at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets are $45 (seniors $35; students and children under 18 $25; Shows4less 4/12 ($10+), 4/19 ($15+), 4/26, 5/3, and 5/10 ($20+). For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go online.


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