‘HYSTERICAL ACTOR DISEASE’ MAKES JOHN FISHER'S NEW COMEDY OF THESPIANS, THE PERFECT WAY TO START
FLIM-FLAM IS A ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE NEW TRUMP AMURKA THAT COULD BE MARX BROTHERS OR MEL BROOKS INSPIRED
Theatre Rhinoceros Artistic Director and writer John Fisher went through the “Trump” trauma that most of us experienced last fall, and his window to deal with the "rump years" is his new play FLIM-FLAM “A comedy of Thespians”. Fisher said “With a sickening thud I realized he (Trump) might very well become president. I think art needs to respond to things quickly so I replaced my play “Ding Dong” with this one.” Fisher feels that FLIM-FLAM and its subject are more appropriate for the current “Trump America”. FLIM-FlAM a world-premiere comedy that Fisher wrote after the election, he directed and stars in. It is now on stage for a short run at the Eureka stage in SF only through March 18.
The story stays on the crazy arch of a Marx Brothers classic, three actors are desperate for work. From TV commercials, to regional theatre, they end up doing some porn films that only mark them for scams and extended erections. Fisher's script includes many over the top comic shticks, including some slapstick bumps that are funny. When the three, Endin, Dobbins, and Aaron, after dead end projects take their lost careers on the road. Once on the bus Fisher now uses the classic road story format. The three discover the new Trump America, the story deals with the new darker side of the American dream.
Fisher makes sure we get the meaning of ‘flim-flam’ deceptive nonsense and “swindle”. Out of work actor Aaron played by the marvelous John Fisher, and Endin played by the terrific Daniel Chung, are two waiters and wanna be actors whose careers are at a dead end. Local favorite, Donald Currie plays the dapper Dobbins Del Rey, as a muse and inspiration for Endin and Aaron to hit the road to better their careers.
Scam film director/producer Harrible played by the clever Kevin Copps, grooms the two for one of his scam film projects. He loads the cute Endin with drugs that keep the boy hard and he sends him into perform some nutty sex scenes. Almost as comic as Harpo and his honking horn Endin, is overwhelmed doing porn. The superb Chung keeps the sex scenes hilarious and during the over the top extended erections bits, we see the “Hysterical Actor” theme approaching.
Pictured: Daniel Chung as Endin in FLIM-FLAM by John Fisher A Theatre Rhinoceros Production at the Eureka Theatre; Photos by David Wilson.
The FLIM-FLAM story is so ridiculous and lost at times that it is very camp and funny, and yes it could use more work, but Fisher's view of the new “rump amurka” is very amusing. With a script that clearly needed more time to find its edge before debuting, but still Fisher wanted to give it something to dislike and uncomfortable moments to keep us squirming in our seats. The likable Krystle Piamonte and the dynamic Jesse Vaughn fill out the rest of the cast in many other roles including Fisher's sound design of gun shots, animals and road sounds. Vaughn is especially fun as a buzzard and Trump supporter. Copps also fills in for many crazy road characters including the local Hollister cop and a wild homeless person.
The craft team includes set designer Bert van Aalsberg, with a set that is mostly conceived with props and benches, and clever shadow moments to create the porn scenes. Aalsberg’s backdrop is effective for Sean Keehan’s light design and projections that changes the mood of the fast moving road show. Robert Horek costumes are simple at times; Fisher's and Chung’s do many scene’s in just some speedo’s. The full size theatre costumes are lavish from Shakes to satin. Most impressive is designer John Karr’s buzzard costume that reminds insiders of some great furry fetish moments. Donald Currie created some original songs and music for the 100 minute farce, and keeps the wild story moving.
FLIM-FLAM is a fantastical silly road trip that includes ‘Hysterical Actor’ illness is the new American dream. It could use some work, but it is worth a visit especially as bodies start piling up. John Fisher's original works are always mind bending and important. This cast gives their all, and in the end none of us win, as we wait out these next four years. I can’t wait to see the ‘on hold’ DING DONG, and the other works that the Rump years may inspire Fisher's creative pen. Next up at Theatre Rhino is PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT - opens May 27th.
Theatre Rhino Presents
A World-Premiere Comedy
Written and Directed by John Fisher.
Must Close March 18th
Theatre Rhino @ Eureka Theater,
215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111.
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/1618554241784378/
Featuring Daniel Chung, Kevin Copps, Donald Currie, Krystel Piamonte and Jesse C. Vaughn David Draper (Costumes), Sean Keehan (Lighting Designer), Mercedes McLean (Stage Manager), Bert van Aalsburg (Sets), David Wilson (Graphics/Photography/Ads).
Photo’s by David Wilson