Jonathan Maas’s Review of the play Sacred Beasts – at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

I was fortunate enough to attend ‘Sacred Beasts’ –  a sneakily charming play at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It starts with a somewhat obscure premise – 3 stages in the life of both Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway, played by 3 different actors each, 6 in all.

You might think such a concept a bit off-putting, but it ends up quite engaging. Each actor brings their own unique spin on the character. The play starts of with Hunter Saling delightfully playing the dashing young upstart Orson Welles in his first meeting/conflict with uber-masculine Craig Woolson’s still-on-top-of-things Hemingway. The next scne has John Patrick Davis subtly adding his own touches to a mid-career Orson Welles, whereas Jerome St. Jerome plays a Hemingway just about to lose it. Jerome plays this with both pathos and humor – ending the scene emphatically.

David Gallic continues the subtle arrogance of Welles in the last scene, adding a touch of humility to the character. Richard Malmos perhaps steals the show as the cantankerous Hemingway who spends most of his time looking out the window, and looking backward on what could have been. Malmos contorts his face into incredible scowls and quivering anger, and gives an outsized impact to Hemingway’s last hurrah.

In short, this was a great show, well cast and brilliantly written. Though the premise seems a bit avant-garde, the result is anything but. This play, written by Chris Wollman and produced by Lia Wollman, is accessible and beyond enjoyable. I laughed at one line before becoming extremely wistful in the next. And I loved the entire play – all scenes, all six actors. Congrats to Lia and Chris for putting on such a show, and congrats to Pam and the Hollywood Fringe Festival for making it possible!


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