Monsters of Man: A Supernatural Anthology

ensemble theatre · mb stage productions, llc · Ages 14+ · United States of America

world premiere
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Review by anonymous

June 19, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

Aspects of this show really worked. Lighting and sound design were excellent and set the atmospheric tone perfectly. Strong performances from several cast members made even the weakest segments interesting to watch. Particular shout out to Jakob Hankins, who in one particular scene managed to convey rich and moving emotion without ever speaking a word, and to Mckenna Rae Tynan who was able to create uniquely individual characters throughout each of her segments. The cast also showcased some excellent stage combat that helped create some serious tension on stage. It’s hard to name favorites or otherwise discuss particular elements without spoiling scenes, but I think I can say that the most well developed stories, in this reviewer’s opinion, were the first one with a group of survivors in what appeared to be a zombie apocalypse arguing over who may or may not have been bitten and a blind (that is, blindfolded) date scene that while the set up seemed somewhat contrived and difficult to buy into (who agrees to wear a blindfold on a first date with someone you met online? That’s just asking to be part of a horror story) provided a pretty entertaining twist that I did not see coming and really appreciated for it’s cleverness. And in certain segments it was clear that writer Sarah Ruttan was writing allegorically and with the intent of making the audience think about the more uncomfortable and messy parts of life through her stories, which must be applauded. For example and without spoiling, one particular scene conveyed the sense of a person feeling unheard and ignored in a relationship, albeit through a plot device we’ve seen utilized before in a couple of other places.

What I didn't like

In my opinion most of the segments were either too contrived, too cliched, or just didn’t particularly make sense. Some of them were built on a premise that just didn’t seem in any way realistic (see aforementioned blind date). Some of them were far too predictable, either because we’ve seen this idea explored too many times or because it was given away far too early in the dialogue or the set up. Some of them just didn’t follow to a logical conclusion or lacked any clear motivation from the characters to bring us to this climax. A couple seemed to rely far too much on the audience piecing together clues that weren’t clearly given. Some serious thought can be given to this premise to really make the most of it, but in its current iteration it really fails to bring much horror or originality to the table.

My overall impression

A strong premise with an underwhelming result.

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