Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Patrick Chavis

Music and theatre have always gone hand in hand. In some ways, they pull from the same emotional well. While watching playwright Diana Burbano’s new play, we get a nicely condensed drama about punk rock, love, and family. I liked it, but I couldn’t help but feel I had seen this story done before. Of course, Fabulous Monsters is its own narrative. The plot has enough differences to set it apart –especially for an older generation. Still, the positive differences felt less new after watching it and more like a rehash of another story.

runaways

Photo Courtesy: Sony Pictures Entertainment

What story am I talking about? It was an Indie film, The Runaways, I saw a few years back, which starred Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. The movie was based on the punk girl group of the same name. The film follows a young Joan Jett and Cherie Currie as they meet in a punk rock bar, decide to start a band, and thus quickly try to navigate through a rise in rock stardom that ultimately collapses. Can Joan and Cherie’s relationship hold up? (Spoiler) No, not really, at least not in the movie. Now take that plot line but replace the two white girls with Jewish white girl Lulu (who may as well be Cherie) and boyish, Hispanic girl Sally (who may as well be Joan). Add in a B-plot where we get to see the future of these rock stars, and you’ve got the story of Fabulous Monsters.

What makes it unique and different are the things only Burbano could bring to the narrative. The character of Nick, played exceptionally well by Gerado Villa-Lobs, is one of these differences. Here Nick is an already established rock artist with a rather open, if not fluid, sexuality. Using Nick’s character, Burbano creates an interesting love triangle between the other two characters, Lulu (Lena Romano) and Sally (Anita Abdinezhad).

Front row: Mercy Vasquez, Anita Abdinezhad, Voiza Greene. Back row: Julianna Stephanie Ojeda, Gerardo Villa-Lobos and Lena Romano. | Photo by Stephen Rack

Front row: Mercy Vasquez, Anita Abdinezhad, Voiza Greene. Back row: Julianna Stephanie Ojeda, Gerardo Villa-Lobos and Lena Romano. | Photo by Stephen Rack

The show also transports us to the future to see where the characters end up. This is the differential key that makes Fabulous Monsters its own unique story. We get to follow around a now-aged Sally –who renames herself Slade –while she tries to reassemble her life after a crazy, punk rock roller coaster ride.

On a visual level, the casting is perfect, and there is never any confusion regarding who someone is or why they are there. Highlighting cultural differences through a Latino and Jewish lead is welcomed. Still, their cultural heritages aren’t explored much beyond being used in a few jokes and dialogues to demonstrate their social class and education differences. The play harps on the idea that these things don’t matter much. What matters is the music and the authenticity.

Fabulous Monsters is a very provocative dramatic narrative using rock stars’ dangerous and reckless lives to highlight a deeper and more profound message. But the message and the acting feel more authentic than the strangely familiar storyline.

My Review
7.5 Overall
10 Users (1 vote)
Story6.5
Acting8
Set & Design7
Costumes9
Entertainment7
What people say... 1 Leave your rating
Awesome Show!
Super show --great acting & writing! Fun & emotional--You will love it!
August 29, 2015, 10:38 pm
Story10
Acting10
Set & Design10
Costumes10
Entertainment10
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0
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