By Ernest Kearney  —  Its title, The Other Side of the Razor Ribbon, refers to the modern style of barbed wire one sees adorning those fence tops surrounding a standard correctional facility.  David C. Taylor, who is serving an eight-year prison term for trafficking, is the apparent subject of Stacy Dymalski’s one-woman show.

There is a long wind up before Dymalski pitches her tale; taking us through the breakup of her marriage, her struggle to make ends meet, and her relationship with her son who goes off to college and agreeing to mentor a prisoner in Federal prison because she is so desperate for the money.

Dymalski is a very engaging personality, and the production shines with professionalism thanks to producer Michael Blaha.

The show has a great look, provided by Art Director Megan Miller, and an even better sound, due to the performer’s son Derrick Dymalski, who, though looking as if he’s just killing time till the next Godspell revival, enhances the evening with a smart original score while serving as his mother’s very own one-man-philharmonic.

This is a well mounted show, so well mounted that the structural imperfections of this piece are almost completely cloaked.

What you have is a quality job of gift wrapping with an elegant bow, all aglow with sparkle and glitter, but without much of a present inside.

Every drama is a journey.  That journey is a pathway strewn with questions that lead to discoveries which present more questions.

General rule of thumb: the more questions and discoveries the better.

The greatest dramas tend to open with one or the other.

Dymalski offers no questions, few discoveries and has misplayed her journey.

The journey is not the end of a marriage, her financial difficulties or her motherly sacrifices.

The journey is not that she edited a book by a prisoner who turned out to be a wonderful writer.
These are all side dishes.

The meat and potatoes are missing.

To quote from the show’s program notes:

“…an unexpected journey of two unlikely people at the lowest points in their lives helping each other….”

Unfortunately, there is no “journey of two unlikely people,” nor ”helping each other…” in this show.

Dymalski share’s tidbits with us —how good a writer Taylor is, the difficulty of phoning into a federal prison— but always as expository info, never contained within a scene.  She tells the audience of discoveries, but never shares the adventure of making them.


In fact, we are not told much about the relationship between Dymalski and David C. Taylor, the inmate author; or how she went from seeing him as a smuggler of “illegal immigrants” to a savior of “huddled masses.”


bronze ribbon - Fringe FestivalThe closest we come to Taylor or his book, Jacumba Connection, is when Dymalski reads from a letter of his.   It is enough to tantalize, but hardly satisfy.


Perhaps a one-woman show was the wrong avenue for this tale, but if it is done as a solo show, it must be a solo show with two fully worked characters on stage. The Other Side of the Razor Ribbon lacks that, and so a golden premise receives a BRONZE MEDAL.


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The Other Side of the Razor Ribbon

Played during the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018


Studio C Theatre

in Hollywood

For More information about this play click HERE.

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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 and Follow him on Facebook.

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