Running Amok in “Herpes: A Love Story”

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017 imageBy Ernest Kearney — This show on the scourge of the sexual revolution, described as “an interactive, one woman musical comedy,” provides Cherise Pascual with the opportunity of blitzing the audience like a miniature methed-out Panzer tank: She sings, she dances, she plays a cast of 1000s, she shows her films, she parodies John Lennon’s “Imagine,” she relates her sexual awakening, she confesses her drug addiction in an elaborate sendoff of Gilligan’s Island;

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale

A tale of a fateful trip

That started from a gram a day…”

She provides the audience with rain jackets, sprays the audience with a super-sized water blaster (hence the jackets), gives us her medical history, treats us to a brief dissertation on herpes simplex virus and encases herself in faux “blow.” She performs for us as her boyfriends, her mother, her doctors, her herpes!

This show is over-stuffed with stuff.

But while over-stuffed is not necessarily bad, under-shaped is.

Pascual is a tornado of talent. However, a tornado is an uncontrollable mass of unbridled force and neither of these features works well on a stage.

And here is the point when I find myself standing up from my desk, reaching up to the top shelf of my office where, from between my bust of Smedley Butler and Bill the Cat doll, I pluck down and dust off one of those Golden Adages I keep handy:

Always leave them wanting more.

This is Pascual’s first Fringe and she put her heart into the effort.

bronze ribbon - Fringe FestivalAnd her liver, and her anterior pulmonary plexus, and her gallbladder, and her inferior vena cava, and her sacral plexus, and her eyelashes, and her philtrum, and her…..

You get the idea.

What Pascual lacked was a constructive containment of the creative whirl that she is.

Had she had that, Herpes: A Love Story would have infected us all.


♦    ♦    ♦

Herpes: A Love Story

Running During Fringe 2017 at

studio/stage  (Main Space)
520 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Remaining Shows:
Friday, June 23, 2017 – 9:30 pm

For Tickets and Additional Information:

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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