My Beautiful Monster - A Struggle with Sexuality

Fringe Description: Naughty · Poetic · Intimate

"My Beautiful Monster" is a painfully personal one-woman show. Although I gather that much of it may be based on the actor's own life, it is a separate fictional work. Annie's sexuality is awakened at puberty, and she faces a lot of guilt and shame. She wants to connect with the opposite sex, and she wants to be loved, but her fear and apprehension hold her back. She can't respond to good candidates, and bad candidates do stuff that terrifies her. She is from a traditional Christian home (Dutch Reformed, is my guess), and her mother constantly admonishes her to dress modestly always. 

The play focuses on the idea that Annie's libido is like Frankenstein's monster. This monster appears throughout, as the actor (Stephanie Elgersma) describes various events in her romantic and sexual development. These are phrased in terms of the libidinous monster's actions and intentions and feelings, and this monster is male. 

I wonder if the male Frankenstein's monster might be viewed as similar to Jung's concept of an anima. According to Jung, we all have an anima that is of opposite gender to ourselves. Or does the "monster" of libidinous sexuality have to be male, because the character Annie feels the sexual nature of this monster is so contradictory to her good-girl self?

Adjustment to mature sexuality is difficult for many people, but the actor clearly feels it was worse for her. After all, her friends were married by 25 and had children by 30. Why was it so difficult for her? Or, perhaps was it hard for her friends too, even if they did succeed by conventional measures? It's only a 60-minute production, and the extreme focus on the character of Annie makes sense in that context.

I enjoyed the show, as I enjoy hearing honest and personal representations of people's lives. One can't help but wish that someone could have helped Annie when she was struggling so much, but by all outward appearances, she was always doing very well. That's part of the conflict; a beautiful outside, but feeling like there's a monster within. 

By Lois Patterson