FRINGE REVIEW: of Monster Descent

I am infinitely jealous of Trey Tatum.  He’s disarmingly charming, with an aw-shucks genuineness that instantly makes you want to sit near him.  He’s humble – too humble – given the level of artistic talent that he possesses.  I want to be very clear: of Monster Descent is an amazing piece of storytelling and will definitely go down as a highlight of the 2018 Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  It will also sell out every performance… because Trey (and his equally lovely wife and creative partner, Bridget Leak) are as popular a couple as you’ll find in the arts community.  And, of course, because the show – and their reputation – is stellar.

The script is overall so beautifully honest, raw, and powerful.  There are a few throwaway laugh lines that seem mistimed, almost as if Tatum doesn’t trust in his own ability to be dramatic.  In fact, maybe that’s what makes him so engaging – you know that at any moment, things could go off the rails.  He might get nervous, thirsty, or forget a line or two.

But you can’t help but be on his side throughout the journey.

And what a journey it is.  As someone who works with people with mental health and trauma histories, I found this family’s story of living with Bipolar Disorder to be chillingly precise and devastatingly accurate.  The descriptive language Tatum uses rolls off the page like poetry.

It’s obvious that he’s more comfortable behind the keyboard than on stage; I wonder if the show would have more impact in the hands of a more polished actor (or a full set, lighting cues, projections for the chapter headings…) – or would those elements cause it to lose its raw, visceral power?

This story feels autobiographical; it may not be at all but that’s a testament to the authenticity Tatum brings to it.  If you want to see it, you better buy your ticket now.  And you really, really should.

Click here for more information on Queen City Flash’s OF MONSTER DESCENT as part of the 15th Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival.