Only the weak have morals!
Three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson, as the demented Joker in the 1989 Batman movie, breathlessly asks Michael Keaton, as the superhero, if he has “ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Nicholson is obvious the devil in this scenario. It would be would be naïve to think he wouldn’t ask for a damn good reason. The same question should be posed to the victims, I mean the contestants, who are addressed only by the first letter in their name. There’s M (Christian Longoria), S (Melissa Cindric) and D (Malcolm Wise). Each one is destined to become the leader of the cult group, The Ascendants of Abaddon. The hiccup is all three have to show the current ruler Adam (Sean Little does a great job as the demanding tyrant) they are better suited than their counterparts. Like Jim Jones founder and leader for the Peoples Temple, Marshall Applewhite from Heaven’s Gate and Charles Manson from the Manson Family, Adam is seductive, understanding and very charismatic. And like his predecessors, he’s also very deadly and conniving. He knows what to say and how to say it to get his point across. That’s the true skill of a multi-faceted manipulator.
He terrorizes each participant using sweetness wrapped in overt maltreatment. He raises ire in each one. Adam is decked out in an orange jumpsuit, like just broke out of Attica, with a black bow tie and gold spike shoes, as if he were a host at Norms Restaurant. Samuel (Marcus Cannello), is Adam’s lapdog, who doesn’t speak. His job is to look menacing. All he does is stand tall, wearing all black including a leather mask. With a flick of his oversized red feathered fan, Adam gets things done. The three in custody do what he says. The rulers in question, have their own demons to work on. To show these newbies who wish to rule, only go by the first letter of their first name. M is the angry-looking, long-haired blond who’s an addict with a professional degree. D is a cocaine dealer who dabbles in fentanyl. As the sole female reaching for the prize is S a scary young woman with a thirst to end mortality. All three wear black jumpsuits with the pentagon on the back. Adam insists they bring something tangible to show who’s worthy of the sacred title. Out of the three, it’s S who is the most blood thirsty. She heartily vocalizes her glee for doing away with whomever stands in her way. Her attitude is pretty much, roll-with-me-or-get-rolled-over. The men need to watch out.
Each one has to bring some type of trophy to prove who should be the nest shot caller. S brings a freshly sliced off head, while D, brings the blood dripping heart from an addict he probably killed and M searches through his bag and finds long strands of black hair. Adam turns to the congregation (in this case the audience) and leads to the “All hail Abaddon/ Blood for blood,” prayer. This continues until the opponents are pitted against each other and one is standing.
I don’t know what went through playwright and director Ashlynn Judy’s mind when she wrote this, but, I hope she never loses it. Her creative genius is all over this thought provoking and interesting story. She brings out fragile human emotion and whips it up into something realistic so everyone can relate to it. I look forward to her next production. She’s on fire. Who hasn’t danced, or shared a meal with or talked to the devil in the pale moonlight? If you have, that means your ass is on the line. I’m just saying’.
Hell’s Finest plays Saturday, June 22nd at 12:30 a.m. and Friday, June 28th at 12:30 a.m. at the Complex Hollywood inside the Ruby Theatre, located at 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., in Los Angeles. For ticket information, log on to www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5712. Running time is 45 minutes. Ticket price is $10.