Theater review: ‘Monkey Madness’ at Powerhouse Theatre


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Once there was a Monkey Boy (Randy Thompson) who longed to be human. The appeal of his goal escapes me, however, given how much fun the cast of “Monkey Madness” has playing simians of all variety. This rambunctious, goofball production by the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble, now playing at the Powerhouse in Santa Monica, is part rave, part sketch comedy and a vehement affirmation of kneepads.

Writer-director Daisuke Tsuji, a Cirque du Soleil alum, and choreographer Anne Rene Brashier create a hyperkinetic world in which monkeys and gorillas philosophize, have sex and eat their own waste products. (The preshow has them crawling over seats and snatching programs from unsuspecting audience members.) Somehow a bunch of actors in monkey makeup erupting into an ecstatic dance sequence affirms the core delight of theater — you can be somebody (or something) else just by pretending — an ambition close to Monkey Boy’s heart.


Tsuji throws in plenty of sly touches: at Chimp School, literature is taught from a porn mag, the gorillas’ flag is a pair of boxers tied to a stick. Cristina Bercovitz creates a striking, ghostly puppet god. Yet there’s a scattershot feel to the show; at points, “Madness” tries to be a rom com, epic battle and coming-of-age story. In the end, Monkey Boy gets what he wants. But will evolution be all it’s cracked up to be?

-- Charlotte Stoudt

Monkey Madness,” The Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 2nd St., Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Dark July 4. Ends July 18. $15-$20. (800) 595-4849. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Caption: Erika Arias, Dee Amerio Sudik, Eleanor Van Hest, Mo Aboul-Zelof. Credit: Melissa Snyder / Vibble