Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tales of Sex and Religion In Conservativeville

Damnee Manon, Sacree Sandra
Written by Michel Tremblay
Directed by Richard Stein
Featuring Jessica Lamprinos and
Alexander Price
Monkey Wrench Collective
Fullerton, California
Through July
Friday and Saturday Nights 8 PM
Sundays at 2 PM
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco
Photo By Melita Ann Sagar

As I was watching Michel Tremblay's "Damnee Manon, Sacree Sandra", the current show running at the Monkey Wrench Collective in Fullerton, CA I could not help think of the irony of the location of the theater on Harbor Blvd. in Fullerton.

In this extremely controversial play that explores similarities between sex and religion, I realized that this theater was ground zero between two Fullerton institutions, The United Methodist Church down the alley and the Naughty Teddy. The Monkey Wrench Theater couldn't be in a more perfect location for this tale.

How controversial is Tremblay's 1977 play? Director Richard Stein says the first time he saw it in hardened New York, people walked out of the play in the first five minutes they were so offended. And that's New York.

And how gutsy is MWC's Director Dave Barton and company's call to produce this play right in the middle of the City of Fullerton that has more than one Catholic Church and ultra-conservative North Orange County? Not to mention we are in the middle of a theater season here in Fullerton bringing us, save for Hunger Artist's run of Lenane, safe and tried and true fare like Chicago, Twilight Zone, Little Shop of Horrors, and the Rat Pack. Pretty risky if you ask me.

Well the fact is nobody walked out the night I was there. You are immediately drawn to the two characters Manon (the religious) and Sandra (the Transvestite) on stage.

The challenge of a lot of Michel Tremblay's play is to keep the dialogue interesting and fresh. In this play in particular. There have been reviews of other company's doing this play where the actors could not pull off the monologues and keep it fresh. I am happy to report, this was not problem with MWC's Jessica Lamprinos and Alexander Price who play Manon and Sandra respectively. Plus, it's really not a true monologue because you have two people saying their own monologue. So, to me, the change back and forth was energizing and refreshing.

The thing about this play that is fascinating and the questions you have as it unfolds is while these two sexual and carnal, the other religious...appear to be on opposite sides of each other, there is also a commonality of what they are saying. You also want to know what the connection, if any, there is with these two people.

Minimal, yet effective, set and costume design by the Collective, with the focus rightfully being on the two actors. Lighting is subtle but well done as the focus goes back in forth between both sides of the stage with the actors.

Kudos again to the Monkey Wrench crew and Dave Barton, the Dirctor Richard Stein, and playwright Michel Tremblay for another job well done. And for being brave enough to show this in Fullerton.

1 comment:

Doug Vehle said...

So I assume you'll be seeing 'Dragula' at Stages later this year? They have some bizarre stuff there from time to time.

I like different, but for someone to coldly and calculatingly aim to offend is a failure from the very start as far as I'm concerned. Being offensive is deliberately shutting down the thought process of others.

Couldn't figure out the schedule on the Monkey Wrench Improv classes this summer, or I might have been there.