A DRAG QUEEN, VLADIMIR PUTIN, AND TRUMP MAKE UP A NEW DR. STRANGELOVE TO END THE PLANET
Director writer John Fisher took a holiday this past January in Hawaii at the wrong time, he writes “(while in Hawaii) I received a push notification telling me of an incoming ballistic missile attack. For forty minutes I was convinced that I and my husband and the world were going to end. I offer (Transitions) as my own wake-up call. There are things greater to fear than fear itself.” Theatre Rhino presents Fisher’s TRANSITIONS a new work as their winter play featuring a cast of six players in an off-the-wall farce about “the Trump era,” A drag queen attached to the comedy, a Russian president, an American president and their lost staff tell this story about gender and sexuality in the world of geopolitics.
At times I got the feel of a Saturday Night Live sketch that has gone on too long, and we are missing the sharp Alec Baldwin as Trump. In Fishers tale of Putin and Trump he plays both roles including an introduction as himself. It is a Marx Brothers caper that is scary real between the two leaders, their wives and an overzealous staff in both countries. In a moment of international crisis this comedy explores Trump and Putin as they both risk blowing up the planet. The wonderful Charles Peoples III is cast as Ruby a drag queen who steals this show, and is the hero of this farce with points of missed humor that carry the plot.
Fisher has fun in both roles playing the misguided leaders, he is slick as Putin, and the red wig is distracting in his role as Trump. Yet Fisher has the body language perfect as the red hair menace. The entertaining Katie Rubin doubles as wives Melania Trump/Lyudmila Putin and the superb Katryn L. Wood is their secretaries: Whitehouse, Miss Dalanka and Russian Mrs Morit for Putin’s team. The accomplished Gabriel Ross plays many roles including staff for both offices. Ross carries the loaded black box that has the codes to unleash destruction, an atomic doom.
The young White House assistant, Esekial, played by the keen Morgan Lange is assigned to scout a performer to represent America in the US/Russian cultural exchange. Esekial who deals with his closeted gay side heads off to the National Theatre that ends up being a Drag Queen Bar where he discovers the sizzling Miss Ruby. Charles Peoples III stops the show with her performance and steals the boys heart. The caper gets heated as White House and Russian staff deal with a family kidnapping and shenanigans erupts. Fisher adds the reference to the Hawaiian atomic mishap and his cast handels all the double roles well, with a highlight performance from Lange as the White House boy.
Stage Managers Isaac Traister and Vijay Raghunathan keep the 100 minute comedy moving as Fisher quick changes from the Russian to the Redhead are flawless. Costume designer David F Draper kept Trump and Putin in slick grey suits, but he added that classic Trump long black overcoat to fill out the madman's Washington look. Draper had both wives in classic iconic gowns and Ruby was sizzling in her red tinsel gowns. The set designed by Fisher and Sebastian Attardo was clean and easily transformed between Russia and Washington. Sean Keehan’s lighting and video design is sharp and dramatic at times as the red glow clicks down the end of the world as the Bomb is set to go off. Dialect Coach Lynne Soffer kept the Russian sound authentic, and Jordan L. Moore’s wigs were best on the women, and Fisher’s bald look for Putin made that haircut fit the Russian.
This is a fun comedy romp, but still needs some work and some of the jokes get lost. Peoples as Miss Ruby makes this show worth a visit, and the cast is tight with the comic and drama timing. Next up at the Rhino the Bus is back, their hit from last summer PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT is back and opens in May. But in the meantime if you want some “Trump” trashing and a great performance from Charle Peoples III, hurry to the Gateway Theatre - TRANSITIONS closes next weekend.
Theatre Rhinoceros present
the World premiere of
Written and directed by John Fisher
Must close - March 17, 2018
formally The Eureka Theatre
215 Jackson Street
415-255-8207 or www.therhino.org
Photo’s by David Wilson
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)
Charles Peoples III Performs "Dark Eyes" from "Transitions" at Theatre Rhinoceros