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Flim-Flam

Flim-Flam. Comedy. Written and Directed by John Fisher. Theatre Rhino @ Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111.

 flim-flam is either a noun: nonsensical or insincere talk, or a verb: swindle (someone) with a confidence game. There are elements of both in John Fisher’s dark comedy road trip plot of three desperate actors seeking work. It’s a sprawling piece that comically attempts to highlight serious issues in today’s social morality as seen through the eyes of struggling performers. While there were kernels of possibility here and there, I found the humor awkward, bordering on distasteful and in the end I felt flim-flammed.

Daniel Chung (Endin), Dionald Currie (Dobbins) and John Fisher (Aaron) are out of work actors. Photo by David Wilson.

Daniel Chung (Endin), Dionald Currie (Dobbins) and John Fisher (Aaron) are out of work actors. Photo by David Wilson.

Fisher has the histrionic gay character down pat. It’s an easily identifiable and often humorous stereotype he’s perfected over the years. His character Aaron, however, starts out optimistic, but becomes more and more angry and bitter until at the finale, he’s a reprehensible child abuser who’s murdered and eaten by carrion. His fellow actor Endin (Daniel Chung) is lured into performing in porn videos by a disreputable auteur has-been director Harrible (Kevin Copps). Their pal Dobbins (Donald Currie) convinces them that there’s work out there in small town America, and off they go on a fantastical adventure to Hollister, California.

There’s too much going on here: from the actor’s disillusionment, failure and struggles, to the crazies they meet in Hollister, to their conversion to unsympathetic hucksters. There’s some unseemly comedy at the expense of Zika babies and some hard to swallow racial stereotyping that when exaggerated becomes funny, but not funny enough here. There’s dick and doody jokes, annoying sound effects by the actors between scenes and too many ideas to distract the audience attention.

Flim-Flam doesn’t play out like a Marx Brothers sendup and doesn’t have the smarts of say a Cukor or Capra comedy. Low brow is fun at times, but this production aims higher and ultimately fails.

Performance run through March 18th       www.theatrerhino.org            800.838.3006

  1. Randy
    Randy03-04-2017

    What a surprise-a negative review though I have not attempted to go back and read all of your reviews-perhaps on a rainy day? But I am also not that surprised that it was a Theatre Rhino production. When I moved here in 1995 I was so excited that I could attend plays at a theatre that specialized in plays for gay people and I went to quite a few as I had a friend that was a big donor and got a number of us in for free. But that was the end of the excitement for me as for the most part the plays were so underacted by most of the actors that I was quite shocked and really saddened that this was the case and I never could tell the friend how I felt as he was a dear man that was doing the right thing helping our community. I really only saw one really good show there and I saw that twice. I’d go again!

    But what happened to your returning to the ODC last night?

    • Steve Murray
      Steve Murray03-13-2017

      I was not the only poor review for this production unfortunately. I did go back and saw 13th Floor and Twisted Oak agai. My friends liked it alot.