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Edgy Rude Guerrilla returns as Monkey Wrench, joining busy Fullerton storefront theater scene

February 10, 2010 |  6:11 pm
Davebarton Monkey Wrench Collective, the successor to the edgy Rude Guerrilla Theater Co. that closed last March, will debut Feb. 26 in Fullerton, adding to that college town’s status as the hub of Orange County’s storefront theater scene.

Dave Barton, who led Rude Guerrilla in its 12-year run as the county’s most likely stage for plays carrying warnings of explicit sex, nudity and violence, will pick up more or less where he left off. The debut is the U.S. premiere of "pool (no water)" by Mark Ravenhill, the standard-bearer for the British “in yer face” theater movement spawned during the 1990s, and a playwright whose work was often staged at Rude Guerrilla.

In “pool (no water),” a visual artist whose career soared, unlike the others among the struggling collective she left behind, invites her former partners to a house party. When she takes a festive dive into her swimming pool, her body is mauled on bare concrete – the pool having been drained without her knowledge. Her erstwhile collaborators proceed to turn the comatose woman's injuries into the subject of their next art project.

The show will run in repertory with “The Revenger’s Tragedy,” Thomas Middleton’s 400-year-old landmark of onstage bloodletting. Barton says other plays planned for the inaugural Monkey Wrench season include “The Fever,” a monologue by Wallace Shawn; “Crave” by Sarah Kane; possible productions, rights pending, of “Far Away” by Caryl Churchill and an unpublished Clive Barker play Barton found years ago in a horror fanzine; and “Jesus Is Gay,” a new play by Chris Secor that Barton describes as a “provocative comedy.” In the fall, Barton plans to revisit one of Rude Guerrilla’s biggest successes,  Ravenhill’s “Shopping and ...,” but with a different cast and production.

Based at 204. N. Harbor Blvd., Monkey Wrench Collective aims to make a mark with the intimacy of its space – about 30 to 40 seats – and a $10 ticket price for all performances. The leadership includes Bryan Jennings, a frequent lead actor from the Rude Guerrilla days, and Rude Guerrilla co-founder Dawn Hess.

The new theater, formerly a beauty parlor, augments a downtown neighborhood where two other long-established companies, the Maverick Theater and Stagestheatre, are just a few blocks away, while a fourth, Hunger Artists Theatre Co., is in a warehouse-industrial complex about two miles to the southeast. Rude Guerrilla’s former storefront in Santa Ana is now home to Theatre Out, Orange County’s first gay-specific stage company.

-- Mike Boehm

You'll find a "pool (no water)" information page here, although it can be viewed only by those signed in to a Facebook account.


Honesty that isn't for the squeamish

Rude Guerrilla to close next month

Photo: Dave Barton. Credit: Los Angeles Times.