MONSTERS was a respectable first effort from Fringe Festival newbie Dogboy Productions. This one-act theatrical piece was a brief interjection into an evening full of some festival heavy-hitters, but, nonetheless, left me with lingering questions despite its abrupt and shocking conclusion.
Equal parts biting social commentary and psychological thriller, MONSTERS plays with some of the most easily prodded stereotypes living in the city of stars. Structured around the casting and filming of a reality television show, it is easy to tell how closely playwright/actress Katherine Noland pays attention to Bravo channel original programming. In a world riddled with wannabe starlets and ratings-hungry producers, how do we, as viewers, participate in this cycle of exploitation? Is capitalistic consumer culture the monster taking us as victims or are we to blame for our own complicity in this system? MONSTERS self-assuredly pipes into this eternal conundrum with its own snarky portrait of "the industry" and its many moving pieces.
MONSTERS featured a compelling mix of amateur and professional actors. The decision seemed to consciously replicate some of the issues addressed by the overarching narrative, adding a level of measured sincerity to this homegrown theatrical work. Despite some production and script snags, the cast members did their best to stay in rhythm. In some cases, it even added humor to great effect to otherwise tersely composed dramatic scenes. Time and experience will only add more depth to the already intriguing commentaries the minds behind Dogboy Productions seem apt to make. After all, they already have in their pocket a talent seldom cultivated in even the most seasoned performers: improvisation.
For its planned and unplanned comedic treats and potent critiques, MONSTERS was an interesting addition to this year's roster of Fringe Festival performances. It was awesome seeing an early work from those relatively new to the theatrical craft and it will be interesting to see how they evolve. You, too, will want to put Dogboy Productions on your radar moving forward.
For additional information and to purchase a ticket to their final show on Sunday, June 25, visit www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4668