REVIEW: ”Monsters of the American Cinema” Who is the Real Monster?
Posted On October 6, 2023
Review by Ariel Mary Ann
Know Theatre of Cincinnati kicks off the fall season with Monsters of the American Cinema by Christian St. Croix. This queer contemporary 2-person drama examines love, loss, and the complex relationship between father and son.
Performances in Monsters
Remy Washington (Andrew Ian Adams) is a Black queer man raising his white 16- year-old son, Peter “Pup” Miller (Grant Zentmeyer). Remy took on raising Pup after Pup’s father, Brian, passed away from an overdose. Remy is also the owner of the Good Time Drive In, a drive-in movie theatre once co-owned by him and his husband.
The Plot of Monsters in the American Cinema
In the very first scene, we’re pulled into the world of Remy and Pup. Together, the two live in an RV and bond over their shared love of classic monster movies. Remy can be described as having a “take no shit” attitude when it comes to life. At one point, he shares his criticisms of white people who use racial justice protests to garner creditability in the age of social media. Pup, at first glance, is a shy teenager who has a strong appreciation for the world of film. From the iconic classic monsters to the leading women who get kidnapped by them, Pup is simply enamored. Remy eventually gifts Pup with a video camera as a way for him to explore his love of film. Pup decides to use this camera at his school dance; however, we suddenly see a different side of him.
In a different scene, Pup starts to recount what went down during the school dance and right in that moment, we hear him, a white kid, say the N word. The second it came out his mouth, you could feel the tension in the air; so thick that you could cut it with a knife. He takes it a step further by bullying a queer classmate who chose to wear a dress and heels to the dance. We eventually find out that the word, “faggot” was thrown around multiple times. This is juxtaposed with Remy receiving news that a gay couple experienced a hate crime in their town visibly shaking up Remy and rightfully so. Eventually Remy views the video that was taken during Pup’s school dance and the two have a falling out when Pup is called out.
Both Adams and Zentmeyer are incredible in their performance as Remy and Pup respectively. Acting wise, they are able to balance each other’s energy out in a way that doesn’t feel forced nor inauthentic.
Playwright, Christian St. Croix, confronts audiences with the monsters that white, straight America would rather not acknowledge, homophobia and racism. Monsters… shows how pervasive queerphobia is within America and the ways trauma, grief, and addiction can be a monster of its own.
Tamara Winter’s direction shines brightly throughout the show. From the physical moments between Adams and Zentmeyer right down to line delivery –Winters does a beautiful job bringing this play from page to stage. Scenic & Lighting Designer is Andrew Hungerford. Costume Designer is Noelle Wedig Johnston. Sound & Projection Designer is Douglas Borntrager.
Monsters of the American Cinema is for anyone who loves theatre that has a message. Get tickets to Monsters of the American Cinema, which runs through Oct 8th . Tickets can be found at Knowtheatre.com.