DECONSTRUCTING HOLLY… Holly Sidell’s Account of How Life Devours us All

By Ernest Kearney — The courage shown by Playwright/Performer Holly Sidell in recounting her long struggle against cancer, resulting from the hereditary ravages of the BRCA gene mutation, is admirable.

In Deconstructing Holly, she recounts her surgeries, “facing the loss of all the biological organs that deem one a woman,” and seeing her lifelong dream of motherhood being stolen from her with both honesty and humor and under Jonathan Fahn’s direction shows herself to an be exceedingly engaging presence on stage.

The problem here, as in the efforts of so many first-time soloists, is a cluttering of presentation and relevant material.

Praying the night before her surgery, a heavenly spirit appears, who, like Dante’s Virgil, Ebenezer’s trio of spooks and George Bailey’s Clarence, revisits Holly’s past in hopes of enlightening her future.

This device could be workable, but in the present configuration of the piece is somewhat maladroitly employed. It may not be so much the fault of the device itself as much as what it delivers is far too much.

Ms. Sidell provides us a hefty portion of her life story and a lengthy tab of her relational missteps with old boyfriends tumbling on stage like clowns being belched out of a very small car parked in Barnum and Bailey’s center ring.

This is partially problematic because Ms. Sidell is not overly adept at shifting characterizations. The result of this is that all the jerks she dated are indistinguishable from one another. But the primary impairment to Ms. Sidell’s undertaking arises in her piling the inconsequential on stage.

Silver Medal (via The TVolution)

We do not need to be shown how catty and disloyal her high school friends were or how many frogs she kissed before finding her prince. It is being faced by a relentless malevolent adversary armed with terrifying weapons from its genetic arsenal that is crucial to her narrative, and it is her choice of raising life’s banner in defiance of what fate has forced on her that thrills the audience.

All the rest is flotsam and jetsam to her narrative.

For raising that banner a SILVER MEDAL.


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Deconstructing Holly

is on stage during HFF’21


The Broadwater
6322 Santa Monica Blvd.


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For Updates, Tickets and Additional Information Go To :

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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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