‘Beautiful Monsterz’ – The Cancer of Celebrityhood

By Ernest KearneySteve Vlasak’s shows are nothing if not ambitious. This was as apparent in his earlier Hollywood Fringe production of Nights at the Algonquin Round Table (HFF’17), as it is in his latest effort Beautiful Monsterz (HFF’22).

Loosely based on Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Monsterz is set in the world of cosmetic rejuvenation where eternal beauty is found in a jar of cream and not a mystically enhanced portrait, a product that promises a youth “that lasts forever.”

The Dorian here is a troubled young woman (Roz Stanley) who is discovered at a bar by Allen (Richard Lucas), the photographer for the corporation behind the beauty elixir, who feels she is the perfect model for the advertising campaign about to be launched.

To Lucas’ faux Basil Hallward and Stanley’s Dorian we now add Bruno Oliver as Henry, Vlasak’s corporate doppelganger to Wilde’s hedonistic Lord Henry Wotton.

Betrayal, seduction and murder follows but this trail in Vlasak’s rendering does not lead to an acceptance of guilt and redemption, rather to a confrontation with the audience by Henry, basically saying that guilt is meaningless when measured against the power of celebrityhood.

Vlasak has mounted a full-scale production, with sound and video segments by Oliver, and costumes designed by Christina Vlasak aided by Josephine E. Vlasak and Lauren Simon.

Vlasak’s direction is sure handed and tight. The performances by Stanley, Lucas and Oliver all topnotch.

The difficulty with the piece is in Vlasak’s ambition and the time frame within which he has contained that ambition. Can the nature of evil be addressed within an hour? Wilde couldn’t do it in 288 pages. Melville couldn’t do it in the 427 pages of Moby Dick. Should Vlasak be expected to succeed in doing so in a mere 3600 seconds?

Still, what Vlasak does succeed in doing is staging a tight drama that is both intriguing and entertaining.

For that a GOLD MEDAL.

Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolution

Beautiful Monsterz

Played During Hollywood Fringe Festival 2022



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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