Mt. Rushmore, activist-artist Monica Hunken’s one-woman show at the Seventh Annual Charm City Fringe Festival through Sunday, has it all: badass women, time travel, punk rock, political activism, family dynamics, the ’80s, and live music. There’s injustice, deadly corporate malfeasance, a fear-mongering politician, and espionage. But also hope and strength and humor. It’s like you took The Americans, made it a DIY sci-fi with a strong social conscience, and set it to a Black Flag soundtrack. I’m in.
The throughline of what could otherwise be way too much in one show is Hunken’s quest: to go back in time to a crossroads in her mother’s progressive young life and put her on a path that saves her from becoming the fearful, grief-stricken, Fox News watcher she has become. She wants her to be happy and free from media-sponsored distress. Hunken takes us back to the ’80s, after a family tragedy leaves her mother vulnerable and struggling, and imagines an alternate path through the Cold War years; one in which her mom embraces the unknown and finds unexpected friendships and opportunities that keep her from folding inward to the uneasy comfort of conservatism.
Hunken weaves together multiple storylines and characters in her ambitious solo show and it almost comes together without a hitch. Hunken is impressively talented and I love all the ingredients she is using, as well as the central theatrical conceit of the piece, but it feels like it needs a wee bit more time in the oven. I still 100% recommend going to see Mt. Rushmore at the Fringe this weekend, though. I suspect that each performance this week has brought this recipe that much closer to done.
Mt. Rushmore was written and is performed by Monica Hunken. Music Arrangement is by Phil Andrews, who also plays upright bass, guitar, and drums in the show. The show’s dramaturg is Phillip Santos Schaffer and its playwriting consultant is Winter Miller.
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
The final remaining performance of Mt. Rushmore is on November 11 at 5:00 pm at the Charm City Fringe Festival, MAP – 218 West Saratoga Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the venue or online.
PS: When she asks you to name a favorite female ’80s badass, give her the Kims for me (Deal and Gordon). I can’t believe I didn’t include them.