Monkey Wrench Collective has wasted no time in launching its first three productions, and all have played to full houses at the performances I attended. Fullerton is working out to be a better location for them than the Artists Village in Santa Ana. Their storefront on Harbor Blvd. & Amerige places them in the heart of a district packed with restaurants, bars and art galleries, like in Santa Ana, but it also comes with convenient free parking, which they lacked at their previous venue. There's also something to be said about the charm of their tiny brick-walled space--though charm is hardly a word one associates with their brand of theater.
They've got a snazzy-looking website, but like a lot of small arts groups, find it easier to keep the buzz going on their Facebook page than in updating their website (their next production of Brad Fraser's True Love Lies makes its West Coast debut July 9 under the direction of Dave Barton, according to their Facebook page today, but it's not yet on their website.)
Any new venture has a few kinks to work out, and Monkey Wrench has had more than its share, mostly associated with keeping the City of Fullerton's building inspector happy, but it's always a big undertaking to start a theater company, particularly without a paid staff.
Of their first three productions, pool (no water) by Marc Ravenhill was the strongest by far. Each was very different from the others, a sort of coming out party for the Collective to show its range of interests and fool the pundits.
Here's what the UK's Independent said about the upcoming True Love Lies when it premiered in London in February 2009:
What comes across at first as an evening of slick jokiness, glittering with
sexually explicit dialogue, develops into a play of remarkably complex texture.
Sounds like a Monkey Wrench Collective play to me!
[Photo is of Canadian playwright Brad Fraser.]