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Hollywood Fringe 2024: We Lovers

One of the highlights of this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, We Lovers makes something wonderful out of a setup that sounds a little too precious: a group of people beneath the starry sky recounting tales of love to each other. Too often, when a writer opts not to simply tell a story but rather to tell a story about the significance of storytelling, the result can feel as if it is relying on its self-referential conceit to gild a tale that might not be worth telling on its own. That is not what happens here.

Instead, We Lovers uses its anthology format to weave a web of fantasy and folklore deeply imbued with the ambiance of the play’s woodsy outdoor setting. As if enchanted by the full moon above them – symbol of both romance and mystery – the characters relate experiences of passion, loss, and yearning that range in tone from mystical to macabre – even terrifying. Their fanciful accounts sound like folktales, but they feel both archetypal and deeply personal – like myth grounded in reality. The result casts a spell over the audience, transporting them to a liminal space where shadows and darkness highlight love’s comforting glow.

In the wraparound story linking the tales together, Mama’s Boy, avoiding some unpleasantness at home, wanders into the woods, where he happens upon three neighbors gathered to exchange stories by moonlight. Little Bit, a shelter coordinator, recalls his romance with a winged man, apparently an angel, who time on Earth eventually came to an end. Wolf & Bird, a wife and mother, recounts her adventure at a sort of benign Walpurgisnacht, where the souls of the dead briefly enjoyed a return to the land of the living; she briefly acts as a surrogate mother to a ghostly child. Doctor Sister, a waitress, relates a story that sounds like an ’80s slasher movie, including a masked killer, and she is the Final Girl who may have to sacrifice herself to save her lover. Finished with their tales, the neighbors prepare to leave, but Mama’s Boy takes his turn, spinning a new tale about the day the sky fell, imperiling young lovers; his story seems to incorporate the other tales, providing closure they may have lacked. Finally, the characters break the fourth wall to address the audience directly, taking turns to tell a story, the rapid-fire shift in voices blurring the distinction between characters until they seem to harmonize as one.

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Although the brief plot descriptions may sound generic, the stories are told with a lyrical beauty that makes each one unique. The individual pieces coalesce like the movements of a symphony, creating a cumulative impact that is surprisingly affecting. Moreover, the seemingly contradictory elements (loving angels, murderous slashers, mournful ghosts) actually complement each other, creating a unique blend of ethereal fantasy, high-toned romance, and uncanny chills.

Beyond that, analyzing We Lovers too closely would probably be unwise; the play inspires emotion more than intellect – which is not to say it is simple minded, merely that it is more like a piece of music to be felt than a dissertation to be understood.

The production is simply but elegantly staged, with the action taking place amidst a few set pieces backed by a luminous image of the full moon floating above forest treetops. The artificiality of the setting is perfect for the telling of fabulous tales, and the mystical aura is enhanced by the cast as they evoke a sense of wonder appropriate to encounters with transcendent beings. Yet, despite the artificiality, the emotions always feel genuine, whether their expressions be sighs of adoration or shrieks of horror (yes, there is a jump-scare or two in the slasher story).

Our only quibble is that, after Mama’s Boy story wraps up the play in a way that seems truly complete, the final four-person tag team recitation, though good, feels like an anticlimax. In a movie, this would be the deleted scene that makes a great Blu-ray bonus feature. On stage, it might work better as a post-curtain-call encore, sending the audience away with an unexpected little extra just when they thought they had seen it all. Other than that, We Lovers is like a mini-miracle, something that seems too diaphanous to register strongly, but then, like a delicate note sung with precisely the right intonation, sends an unexpected frisson shivering down the spine.*


  • Apologies for the pretentious vocabulary, but “frisson” (meaning “aesthetic chills” such as a shiver of joy when listening to music) is the perfect word for this particular sentence.
We Lovers

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

We Lovers stage reviewOne of the top three or four plays we saw at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Fest, We Lovers works as both romantic fantasy and borderline horror, with the two elements blending together instead of contradicting each other. That makes it the perfect date-night show. Highly Recommended.

We Lovers wraps up its run at Hollywood Fringe Festival with a final performance on Saturday, June 29 at 1:30pm in the Eastwood Performing Arts Center (Main Stage), 1089 N. Oxford Avenue in Hollywood. Get more information here.

Cast and Crew: Written by Christian St. Croix. Directed by Phone Tha and Adrián Barrón. Esteban Hurtado as Little Bit. Dina Cataldi as Wolf & Bird.

Note: Playwright Christian St. Croix also wrote Monsters of the American Cinema, which we reviewed during its run at the Matrix Theatre in April.

We Lovers Photo Gallery

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.