“Mormon Playgirl” – There is ‘Play’ – Just Not Enough ‘Girl’

By Ernest KearneyCC Sheffield’s story is pretty standard stuff at any Fringe:

The (SELECT SUBJECT: Son – Daughter – Transgender Offspring) from a devout (SELECT: Faith, Creed or Cult) family disobeys her (ADJECTIVE: Strict – Insane – Dying – Etcetera) (SELECT: Mother – Father – Uncle – Etcetera) to seek (OBJECTIVE: Fame – Fortune – The Legendary Lost City of Llareggub – Etcetera) in (DESTINATION: Hollywood – Paris – West Covina – Etcetera) as a successful (OCCUPATION: Actor/Actress – Dancer – Snow Master on GOT – Etcetera).

In Sheffield’s case it is the ever popular and, I fear, somewhat run of the mill tale of daughter, Mormonism, strict, mother, Hollywood, actor/actress.

The deficiency of Mormon Playgirl, on stage during Hollywood Fringe Festival month at The Complex Hollywood, is in its lack of a structural arc and being nearly devoid of any dramatic intensity; which together contributes to making it seem like a series of flashcards being presented to the audience.

Domineering mother – Flash –

Strained relationship with father – Flash –

Manipulating personal manager – Flash –

Courtney Love is a bitch – Flash –

Harvey Weinstein wants a massage – Flash –

Not that the show is dismissible or Sheffield without talent.

Some of the writing, credited to Zara Burdett, is very clever. In speaking of Sheffield’s overly religious mother, her truck driver father says –

“She doesn’t think you’re a whore,

     she just says that.”

There is also originality to be found here, which unfortunately functions as a two-edged sword that benefits Sheffield but undercuts the show.

The choice was made to present the narrative of Sheffield’s adventures in Hollywood entirely through the second-hand recollections of others, a ploy reminiscent of Citizen Kane only without Kane.

Without “Kane” the audience is shown none of the character’s contradictions with which to spark their interest or allow for them to become emotionally invested. I doubt this was Sheffield’s intention.

Nor could she counter-point the exterior observation of others to heighten tension, as Welles did by resorting to Brechtian devices to enforce the audience’s sense of alienation.

Or to put it another way, you can’t run a camera through a parrot on stage.

But while this device hampers the piece, it does give Sheffield the occasion to show off her chops as a character actor, which, to say the least, are impressive.

Sheffield is far better than this show and at some future date, with a skilled dramaturge and director, I’m certain she’ll demonstrate this.Silver Medal (via The TVolution)

But for now, a low –


For Schedule of Events, Plays and Fun Times at the Fringe: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/

For Complete Mormon Playgirl Info and Reservations: http://hff19.org/5768


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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