Coming to America for Her “… Own Private River Phoenix”

by Ernest Kearney —  My Own Private River Phoenix is a smart and funny piece that is just not ready to be staged.

Written and performed by Ai Yoshihara she tells how she fell in love with River Phoenix at the age of 9, after watching Stand By Me, and determined that she would come to America and marry him; a decision that even Phoenix’s death could not daunt.

What this one-woman show becomes, once the objective of finding Prince Charming is removed, is a “one little-girl show becoming a One-Woman Show.”

Before leaving for America, Yoshihara recounts the promises she made her father (tellingly a figure always hid behind a newspaper).  It is in breaking these promises that she is able to overcome the cultural restraints that being Japanese has imposed upon her, which results in her becoming the woman she wants to be.

The sections where she talks about mistakenly going to a Christian Texas College and her accidental involvement in the world of drug dealers stand out and indicate the direction that this show should have gone.

Silver Medal (via The TVolution)Now to be fair, I did see this show during previews; still it felt to me unready to be seen.

Yoshihara was delightfully funny and had a unique view to share, but the show seems too unsteady to serve as a platform for her talents.

A SILVER MEDAL to Yoshihara, herself, if not the show.

♦     ♦     ♦


Directed by

Jessica Lynn Johnson

My Own Private River Phoenix

Is Playing During

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018


Studio C

6448 Santa Monica Blvd.

For Fringe Information, Show Schedule and Reservations
Go To

What is the Hollywood Fringe 2018?  Read More about it HERE.

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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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