“American Conspiracy” on a Grand Scale

By Ernest Kearney  —  American Conspiracy recounts the trials and tribulations individuals face when trying to convince others—and themselves —that everything would be so much better in the world if only people would simply do what they tell them to.

The bulk of humanity are desperate to mend the disasters of their lives and willing to do whatever that takes; except commit to the brutally honest evaluation of themselves that such an effort requires.

People are in terror of genuine self-reflection and so go to the absurd lengths of convincing themselves that a Band-Aid will do where a tourniquet is needed.

Bad solutions take root in the soil of desperation.

“American Conspiracy” director, Matt Ritchey

In Jonestown, the solution was mixed with blue Kool-Aid which, to lemmings, was the opposite side of a cliff’s ledge. And for a sizable portion of our fellow citizens, it was in putting his “Accidentcy” in the Oval Office.

We struggle to make ourselves believe in these ersatz solutions, which we conjure up when, in truth, it’s like Captain Smith of the Titanic deluding himself that all his problems could be solved if he just had an ice pick.

Perhaps the great “conspiracy” of this piece is how we will hack so furiously at the branches of our anxieties and woes while blinding ourselves to the roots.

So, in Benjamin Schwartz’s deftly crafted piece a young woman (Katelyn Schiller)  is in a frenzy to refit a seedy greasy spoon, so she can flee from it without guilt; while a mother (Amy Smallman-Winston) is willing to crush her daughter’s dreams rather than admit she is terrified of abandonment.

Edward Hendershott from “American Conspiracy”

Also, two men, Spencer Cantrell and David Garver, each threatened by the actions and errors of others, labor to persuade themselves that the remedy lies in making a much more monstrous mistake.

Finally, an agitated young man in a rundown diner knows what he needs to do to fix all that is wrong in his life and the world. His name is John Hinckley (Hank Doughan) whose answer is in his pocket and it’s loaded.

Schwartz creation that begins like a Zen Koan and concludes like a bear trap.  The operation and engagement of such a paradoxical Rube Goldberg would be the undoing of a lesser director but Matt Ritchey enjoys the fortunate fusion of skill and clarity which this work calls for.

The standout cast—including Edward Hendershott who provides the match to the fuse of this theatrical powder keg—is equal to the challenging dramatics of intellectual resonance placed on the actors.

Other notable exemplars amongst the standouts are Garver as a coked-out, whirling dervish and Cantrell as a muted, milquetoast who turns out to be the Bouncing Betty on the Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolutionstage.

A well-delivered, sucker-punch of a play deserving a GOLD MEDAL.

♦    ♦    ♦

American Conspiracy

is Playing During The Hollywood Fringe 2018


Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Boulevard

For Show Information, Tickets and Reservations Go To:


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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 TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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