“Men of Blood” A Splattered Canvas

By Ernest Kearney — Well I can’t say that I was able to discern the “three short plays, written by contemporary German authors.”

There was just a single, intense, extended scene.

A video plays a grainy, closeup of a butterfly struggling free of its chrysalis….

We open in a French Hotel where Josh (Moriz Knorr) sits, bleary eyed and wasted, at a table with a nearly emptied wine bottle and a sizable pile of cocaine; the soul of what the Germans describe as a “faule socke.”

Enters Frankie (Karsten Kuhlmann); a dynamic successful artist preparing for a new opening at a prestigious museum.

What ensues is a battle that is formulated on a number of levels.  The combat rages between two artists, between two lovers, and even between the divided aspects of the creative drive.   It is this lack of clarity that at first infuses the potency of the piece by the intriguing trail of creative bread crumbs it drops for the audience to follow; but it is this lack of clarity that also undercuts the work as we wonder just where we are being lead.

Initially, it seems we are listening to the rants of two lovers on the nature of art.

“Art only exists if someone pays for the stuff,” insists Josh.

Then we seem to flow into the nature of the artist himself: with the two divisions; that of the creative drive and that of the self-destructive aspect represented in the two actors.

In this shifting, Frankie offers Josh two buttons, from which to choose one: “Dead but immortal” or “Alive but insignificant.”

Then the third phasing is introduced, and we find that Frankie’s former lover, Peter, had drank himself to death; an event which has been drained of any lingering emotion due to Frankie’s fetishizing of it.

Now Josh begins to suspect—if he is not to repeat that event, if somehow Frankie is not energizing himself on Josh’s spiral downward—that his death, like that of Peter before him, is just another “work of art” by Frankie.

Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolutionThere is no lack of talent on the stage of Men of Blood, and there are concepts and ideas in abundance to the point of redundancy, what is lacking is the saving grace of specificity.

Perhaps this is the purpose of Konglomera, the German artist collective behind this work, to leave the audience in a tempest tossed sea of themes washed over by waves of questions.   If that is the case, a little warning would have served, and I would have worn my trusty “Mae West.”

Primarily for the pedal-to-the-floor acting: A GOLD MEDAL…but a weak one.

♦     ♦     ♦

Men of Blood

Played During the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018

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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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