Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Let's Talk About Me is a Mixed Bag
Also see Richard's recent review of Blast
The Theatre Rhinoceros, in association with Jennifer Blowdryer and Phillip R. Ford, is currently presenting Let's Talk about Me at their studio theatre. The Rhino Theatre, the world's oldest gay theatre, is now celebrating its 25th year. Over the years, the Rhino has produced at least 100 new works - more than any other local theatre group. Unfortunately, Let's Talk About Me is not one of their better presentations.
Let's Talk About Me depicts the public and private lives of Liberace, Doris Fish and Jennifer Blowdryer. Though two of the one act plays need serious rewriting, Simply Stunning The Doris Fish Story is fresh and sassy. The 40 minute shtick by Arturo Galster is wonderful. Doris Fish was a legendary drag queen I saw many times in San Francisco and Los Angeles clubs. She also starred in the transgender Vegas in Space. Doris was the with celebrated Sluts A-Go-Go during the '80s, and she became quite famous nationwide as one of the best drag stand up comediennes. Doris is no longer with us; she died of AIDS in the '90s.
Arturo Galster has caught the spirit of Doris in her monologue. The artist starts by relating stories of her childhood in the outback of Australia, her early triumphs in San Francisco as a member of the '70s rock group The Tubes, and her fierce opinions on spirituality, aggressive glamour and makeup.
One of the great moments in Galster's monologue is a long video clip of the real Doris Fish on a morning talk show called "Pittsburgh 2." There are some wonderful zingers during the 40 minute period like "I'm not trying to look like a man; I'm trying to look like a drag queen." Another is when she puts a mirror to her face to check her makeup. She tells the audience "I'm going to check my face to see if you all are getting your money's worth." She looks, then says, "You all owe me another dollar." The drag diva ends the act by wearing a large white kaftan and lip-synching Shirley Bassey's "My Life." While she sings the song, there are slides of the real Doris Fish projected on her gown. This is a great tour de force by this artist.
Philip R. Ford does a great imitation of Liberace at the start of the second piece. He comes out in a white suit with rhinestones on his clothes and hands and a flowing cape. The 30 minute act is called Behind the Candelabra and is based on the confessions of Liberace's lover and chauffeur Scott Thornson. Nathan Tucker does a creditable anemic Scott. The scenes fly by much too rapidly and Ford's Liberace becomes more and more frightening.
White Trash Debutante, based on Blowdryer's autobiographical book, is done as a short play with a large cast of actors rushing in and out of scenes. The play tries to cover too much ground in the short 30 minute span. As a result it becomes boring and very repetitious. The acting is also very amateurish.
Let's Talk About Me run through September 22 at the Theatre Rhinoceros Studio, 2926 16th Street, San Francisco, Ca For tickets call 415-861-5079 or visit www.therhino.org.