Enthusiasm “trumps” finesse in Transitions at The Rhino

TRANSITIONS: Written and directed by John Fisher. Theatre Rhinoceros @ Gateway Theatre (Formerly The Eureka Theatre), 215 Jackson St. (at Battery St.), San Francisco, CA. www.TheRhino.org. Tickets:  https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3181511 or 1-800-838-3006. February 23 – March 17, 2018. A WORLD PRMIERE

  Enthusiasm “trumps” finesse in Transitions at The Rhino

If you are looking for an off-the-wall satirical farce with political overtones then the world premiere of Transitions playing at the intimate Gateway Theatre should be just your ticket. The obligatory four doors expected for rapid exits and entrances are absent. However, there are ample means to allow a hectic pace for the energetic cast who substitute enthusiasm for finesse that seems like a dress rehearsal with moments of broad humor carrying the plot forward.

L-R) Morgan Lange as Ezekial, Charles Peoples III as Ruby, Kathryn L. Wood as Dalanka, Katie Rubin* as Melania Trump, John Fisher* as Donald Trump and Gabriel A. Ross as Toray in John Fisher’s TRANSITIONS.
A Theatre Rhinoceros Production at the Gateway Theater (formerly The Eureka Theater).
Photo by David Wilson

Consider the possibilities of a cultural exchange between America and Russia going terrible wrong leading to the possibility of a nuclear war. Of course since the Rhino is a proud gay theatre that has been running for 40 years there is bound to be a solution involving gay performer(s). Heaven forbid that there is any suggestion that Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin, two of the major characters have any such stigmata. In fact as written, directed and portrayed by auteur John Fisher they are both men who would be damned by the #Me’Too movement.

The play is double and triple cast with two exceptions. As mentioned, Fisher plays three roles. Katie Rubin doubles as wives Melania Trump/Lyudmila Putin and Katryn L. Wood as their secretaries Dalanka/ Morit respectively. Gabriel Ross has the unenviable task of performing five other roles and he carries the fateful black box that has the secret codes to unleash an atomic war.

Closeted gay Esekial (Morgan Lange) is assigned the job of seeking a performer to represent America in a cultural exchange. So he heads off to (where else) the National Theatre that despite its name is a venue for drag queens. There we meet the real star of the show gorgeous Miss Ruby played to perfection by real-life drag queen Charles Peoples III.

Without giving specifics about the twisted plot there are few teasers to pique your interest. Vain Melania Trump bonds with Miss Ruby. Miss Ruby bonds with Ezekial and gets “tied-up” with Vladimir. 

Vladamir gets tied up with Ruby

There is a kidnapping and ransom request that plays an integral major/subplot and even mention of the recent false atomic threat to Hawaii.

 Throughout the play there is a great deal of broad acting/mugging that does not receive the anticipated laughter written into the dialog. Fisher has a great deal of fun over-playing the world leaders that most probably would benefit from toning down the histrionics. His shift from Trump to Putin is perfectly executed and his makeup more than appropriate. Charles Peoples III as drag queen Ruby steals the show and his three numbers are worth the price of admission as he controls center stage.  He also is listed as choreographer. Morgan Lange adds a matinee idol demeanor as he woos Miss Ruby.

CAST: John Fisher (John Fisher, Donald Trump / Vladimir Putin); Morgan Lange (Ezekial); Charles Peoples III (Ruby); Gabriel Ross (Toray / Boris/etc); Katie Rubin (Melania Trump / Lyudmila Putin); Kathryn Wood (Dalanka/Morit). 

TECH CREW: David Draper (Costume Designer); John Fisher (Director); Gilbert Johnson (Set Designer); Lawrence Helman (Publicist); Sean Keehan (Lighting Designer); Sebastian Attardo (Set Construction); David Wilson (Graphics/Ads/Photos/Video).

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

Photos by David Wilson.