MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA - Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre

Reviewed by Michael Edwards

Monsters of the American Cinema is a beautiful surprise. A well-acted two person play written by Eugene O'Neill Award Finalist, Christian St. Croix and directed by Rogue Machine founding Executive Director John Perrin Flynn. Monsters is engaging, rhythmic and magically revealing in its exploration of human love and understanding. Rogue Machine does it again.

Pup, a cis fifteen-year-old Caucasian boy lives and thrives in Santee, California under the roof and guardianship of Remy, the African American widower (deceased former husband) of Pup's father and newly inherited owner of The Santee Drive in Theater. Though awkward for so many reasons; Pup's age and hormonal changes, and Remy's late-stage mourning process where he is actually ready to attempt dating again; at rise both men appear to be trying to deepen their bond. Joy seems to explode in the house when they commune on their favorite shared activity; screening turn of the century monster movies like "Frankenstein" or "Creature from The Black Lagoon."  Despite their differing worlds (often shared in dueling monologues from opposite sides of the stage), the staging offers magical shifts in movement and space sharing when they commune with one another in the wonderfully designed (Stephanie Kerley Shwartz) living space they share. As the play progresses, we see Pup entering a darkness in his high school adventures and Remy moving unsure in his reentry into the dating world. As their communions continue, we are taken through anger, contempt, understanding and true healing. We are left with a sense of primal healing as opposed to simple fix, all using the magical ritual of theatre. Beautiful to watch. 

Logan Leonardo Arditty's Pup is explosive, unpredictable, and absolutely endearing. The actors' commitment to Pup's story arch takes him through dangerous unlikeable territory, but Logan's skill, commitment and willingness to reveal his characters' walk to a higher love is evident throughout.  

Kevin Daniel's, Remy is an 'at the net,' tour de force performance. A deep current of love runs through this play and Mr. Daniels keeps this love in his eyes the entire time. Offering a range of joy, wit, passion, rage, and kind understanding, culminating with the vulnerable baring of an open heart, Remy is a character I was glad to meet.

John Perrin Flynn's direction is balanced, beautiful and gritty. An essay in character reveal and movement, he leaves us with a sense of primal dance by play's end. Screen projections of monster movies that seemed esoterically connected to the theme at first genuinely frighten towards the climax as the actors dig seemingly beyond metaphor to real rage and call for transformation and love. A powerful work.

Lights by Ric Zimmerman were complex and beautiful. From simple repetitive TV feel split location lights to unpredictable primal colors simulating ceremony. Very evocative. The sound design by Christopher Moscatiello was detailed and excellent. Graphic and projection design were so much fun - absolutely wonderful and core to the staging. A special word to Violence Design by Ned Mochel for the care and effectiveness of that arrangement.

Monsters of the American Cinema  runs  8pm Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays; 3pm Sundays through May 19th (no performance on May 13).  Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave.

For reservations call 855-585-5185 or

Posted By DH Magazine on April 10, 2024 07:52 pm | Permalink