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Review: ‘Amok Monologues: All Pucked Up’ at Charm City Fringe Festival

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“Everyone has at least one story that can break your heart.” – Claudia Shear, “Blown Sideways Through Life”

Fringe festivals offer a bumper crop of one-person shows – monologues that invite us to explore another life, another viewpoint. We’re a story-telling people at heart.

Emil Guillermo has had a varied career in journalism: he was the first Asian American male to regularly host a national news broadcast (NPR’s All Things Considered); worked in television in San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.; and has been published widely as a columnist and humorist. Telling stories is in Guillermo’s blood.

His one-man show, Amok Monologues: All Pucked Up, describes his life both in relationship to his father, and then in relationship with his Filipino heritage. His is a narrative of assimilation, where sounding like a West Coast Television White Guy is the key to a success that alienates him from his past. But Guillermo is also interested in the history of Filipinos in America, a history of lynchings and white fears not often discussed in the simple ways we’re still talking about race in our country.

These two separate strains, for whatever reason, don’t entirely blend into a coherent storyline. This isn’t any fault of Guillermo’s talents as a storyteller. He is immediately charismatic and engaging on stage, and is easily able to keep our attention. But the story he’s telling feels disjointed, and jumps from point to point without a sense of coherence.

At the end of the evening’s performance, Guillermo explained that each version of this monologue is a little different, and that a full piece, explores the sexualization and emasculation of Filipinos in America – a topic Guillermo explores briefly in Amok. A focused piece, especially one that allowed Guillermo to full explore the stories within it, would no doubt be more rewarding.

Which isn’t to say Amok Monologues isn’t rewarding – again, it’s just more often confusing, attempting to touch on too many points and failing to flesh any out. If you’re having drinks with Guillermo, you can always say, “But wait a minute – tell me more about that.” In the confines of a performance space, that isn’t an option.

Guillermo’s life is one worth exploring. With time and focus, it could also become necessary.

Amok Monologues: All Pucked Up plays through November 12, 2017 at the 322 Stage – 322 North Howard Street, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets and Charm City Fringe Festival buttons may be purchased at Fringe HQ (Le Mondo, 406 N Howard Street), the venue, or online

Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market is joining DC Metro Theater Arts in support of our coverage of the Charm City Fringe Festival. The Market closes at 6 PM on weekdays and is closed Sundays, but we recommend that Fringe-goers stop by on Saturday to grab lunch and take a look around, in addition to checking out the local bands which play from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

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