As a quartet of Hollywood hopefuls vegetate in their small Beachwood Canyon-adjacent apartments, perpetually getting high and calling Pink Dot for more Ketel One, they know they should be stuffing headshots into envelopes or doing something worthwhile to validate their existence.  “Maybe it’s okay if we just say, ‘I live in Hollywood and I got totally fucked-up today,’” suggests Sunny (Theresa Burkhart) to her friend Lola (Alex Dawson) as an alternative to the realization that “no one really does anything in this town.”  Instead, as chronicled in Burkhart’s Feeding the Monkey in Hollywood, they put their creativity to a different use: inventing schemes and situations to impress upon everyone the fact that they’re busy, vital artistes leading fascinating lives—as long as they remember to wipe the coke residue off their faces. 


Unfolding in two separate apartments distinguishable from one another only by reversible movie posters, a coke-dusted coffee table, and a battered Barcalounger, the girls’ day is juxtaposed with that of Brian and Matt (Jeff Rubio and Matt Gallagher), who stare at the tube, pick their navels, and try to remain as inert as possible so that they don’t have to shower again today.  “Maybe we need a project,” suggests Brian.  “Yeah,” Matt agrees, “I like that word.”

As Brian and Matt build a Hydroponic Automatic Inebriator worthy of Betty Boop’s grandfather, Sunny and Lola concoct a stew of Miracle Grow, Ajax, bleach, and lube to make them sick in an effort to explain why they are frittering their day away watching 9½ Weeks.  When their cooking skills blind them, they decide to visit Brian and Matt’s apartment anyway—after all, they know the car keys are on the hook near the door, the pothole in the road is just before the stop sign at the preschool, and they can distinguish between the guys because Matt smells of Polo and Brian of CK-1.

Burkhart’s rapid-fire script is golden, and these four precision comic actors are hilarious, led by director Jamie Wollrab to create a refreshing evening reminiscent of Lucy Ricardo reinterpreted by Cheech and Chong.  Feeding the Monkey in Hollywood won’t save rainforests or change the world, so don’t expect to leave with a new understanding of life among the sharks in Lost Angeles, because there is none—unless you’ve lived through what these people are experiencing and are oddly warmed to find that nothing much has changed in 40 years.  Why, I even looked online for the nearest Pink Dot, emailed Netflix to send me 9½ Weeks, and hopefully Matt and Brian’s Hydroponic Inebriator will be perfected and for sale at California Caregivers Alliance by summer.

Gardner Stages is located at 1501 N. Gardner St. in Hollywood (natch); for tickets, call (323) 960-1053.


TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER teaches acting and theatre/film history at the New York Film Academy’s west coast campus at Universal Studios. He has been writing about LA theatre since 1987, including 12 years for BackStage, a 23-year tenure as Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today, and currently for ArtsInLA.com. As an actor, he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Best Actor Award as Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Nasty Little Secrets at Theatre/Theater and he has also been honored with a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in Of Mice and Men at the Egyptian Arena, four Maddy Awards, a ReviewPlays.com Award, both NAACP and GLAAD Award nominations, and six acting nominations from LA Weekly. Regionally, he won the Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in Fifth of July; three awards for his direction and performance as Dr. Dysart in Equus; was up for Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes honors as Oscar Wilde in the world premiere of Oscar & Speranza; toured as Amos “Mr. Cellophane” Hart in Chicago; and he has traveled three times to New Orleans for the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, opening the fest in 2003 as Williams himself in Lament for the Moths and since returning to appear in An Ode to Tennessee and opposite Karen Kondazian as A Witch and a Bitch. Never one to suffer from typecasting, Travis’ most recent LA performance, as Rodney in The Katrina Comedy Fest, netted the cast a Best Ensemble Sage Award from ArtsInLA. He has also been seen as Wynchell in the world premiere of Moby Pomerance’s The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder and Frank in Charles Mee’s Summertime at The Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Giuseppe “The Florist” Givola in Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Classical Theatre Lab, Ftatateeta in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra at the Lillian, Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Rubicon in Ventura, Pete Dye in the world premiere of Stranger at the Bootleg (LA Weekly Award nomination), Shelly Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Egyptian Arena, the Witch of Capri in Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at the Fountain, and Dr. Van Helsing in The House of Besarab at the Hollywood American Legion Theatre. As a writer, he has also been a frequent contributor to several national magazines and five of his plays have been produced in LA. His first, Surprise Surprise, for which he wrote the screenplay with director Jerry Turner, became a feature film with Travis playing opposite John Brotherton, Luke Eberl, Deborah Shelton and Mary Jo Catlett. His first novel, Waiting for Walk, was completed in 2005, put in a desk drawer, and the ever-slothful, ever-deluded, ever-entitled Travis can’t figure out why no one has magically found it yet and published the goddam thing. www.travismichaelholder.com