Friday, December 16, 2011

Saving The Best For Last

Theatre Uncut
Monkey Wrench Collective
204 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Directed by Dave Barton
Written by Laura Lomas, Dennis Kelly,
Jack Thorne, Clara Brennan, Lucy Kirkwood,
Mark Ravenhill, Anders Lustgarten, and David Greig
Through Sunday Dec. 18
Friday and Saturday - 8 PM
Sundays - 2 PM
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

As a long-time admirer and fan of Monkey Wrench Collective and it's predecessor (Rude Guerrilla Theater) in Fullerton, I am more than a little sad and out of sorts today.

That is because after the three remaining performances this weekend of Theatre Uncut, MWC goes permanently dark, packs it's bags and moves to Los Angeles.

Monkey Wrench Collective was the only place in Fullerton that you could go to for the timely, the avant garde, and the most controversial live theater. It never ever backed down from it's original mission statement.

And it isn't closing from a lack of trying. MWC has received rave reviews from publications as diverse as the OC Register, LA Times, OC Weekly as well as the one you are reading right now. I find it hard to believe that this Theater that sits in the middle of a College Town with fine acting tradition and people with a love of good inventive theater, can't pack their small, intimate venue night after night.

But on Monday it will be gone.

Good news however! There are three performances left of their latest effort and the Wrench has left the best for last.

True to form for Monkey Wrench, Theatre Uncut, which had it's genesis just this year in March and first opened in London, is ripped right out of today's news, and so relevant, you will wonder if this is actually today's newscast. This is adaptable theater which MWC is great at. I don't even think it was on their season schedule when it was announced earlier in the year.

If you are a bit hazy on the purpose of the Occupy Movement who the 99% are, then you will definitely want to see this. The play was originally written in protest of spending cuts by the Coalition Government in the UK but it tells the story of the 99% pretty well.

Theatre Uncut
is actually eight short plays by eight different writers that tell one story. The production runs seamlessly as if it were one play and this is because Director Dave Barton is like an accomplished fine artist. Barton mixes multi-media here to great effect: video, lighting, set design by Jason Bannister, costume design by Heather Enriquez Girten sound and use of actors in an engaging and fascinating way.

There are some truly amazing performances by the actors here. Cynthia Ryannen's Linda, a mother dealing with her child's medical condition in Clara Brennan's Hi Vis is touching, absorbing, and moving. The same can be said about Bryan Jennings as Nigel and Jill Cary Martin as Julie in Jack Thorne's Whiff Whaff.

My personal favorite, and it's hard to pick one favorite here because it is all great, is Mark Ravenhill's A Bigger Banner. What would happen if two protesters from the 40's ran into a protester from the Occupy Movement today? A Bigger Banner answers that question with great performances by MWC veterans Jessica Lamprinos and Jennifer Pierce as well as Jami McCoy and Sean Engard.

Remember, starting tonight (Fri. Dec. 16) these are the last three shows by the Monkey Wrench Collective before they close the doors in Fullerton forever. It's the end of an era which we will probably not see the likes again in this town for a long time to come.

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