Theatre Rhinoceros presents
by John Fisher
Directed by John Fisher
June 6 - July 6, 2019
5 Weeks Only! - 23 Performances
Reviewed by Kedar K. Adour, MD
Action Hero is non-stop action on the Phoenix Stage.
Local auteur John Fisher is again displaying his theatrical ability with the satirical comedy bordering on farce with the non-stop physicality suggested by the title. His target is Los Angeles, its history, its inhabitants, the movie industry and family relationships. He does this with three actors playing nine roles and it is not any specific screen hero but a name will pop into your head. Fisher insists using the words of Terrence McNally “It’s only a play.”
Fisher’s narrator is Jason (Gabriel A. Ross) a recent college graduate heading to Hollywood to become a star. “There he encounters the greatest “action hero” star of all time, a man of many secrets many desires. One of them is the desire to be frightened. Can Jason and his friend Cranston (Jake Soss) meet that challenge? And do they really want this star’s help, knowing what they know about him.”
What they know about him is that he is a gay action hero star professing heterosexuality. This factoid is the major target of the play. But Fisher is an equal opportunity skewer. He throws in family relationships specifically heterosexual father (John Fisher) with gay son Jason, as well as the action hero’s household.
For good measure he emphasizes the downfall of William Mulholland who is infamous for his water stealing collected behind the St. Francis dam that burst flooding LA and another dam still bearing his name. Added to that is the fleeting nature of acting roles, the idiosyncrasies of TV jobs, the inequality of aid following the two fires that devastated Malibu, the growth of drag, the influence of Scientology, the snobbishness of San Francisco’s Bohemian Club and movie’s infamous “Casting Couch.”
The Rhino does not have their own theatre and perform at various venues in the Bay Area. The Phoenix is the perfect venue for Action Hero. It has a large flat semi-thrust stage with “back-stage” behind a black curtain allowing quick access for costume changes and two aisles in the seating area for frequent entrances and exit.
Director Fisher uses a break-neck pace yet allows each scene to play out quickly but with enough time for the audience to assimilate the action and inter-relationships of the characters. Yes there is some confusion with rapidity of changes but that adds to keeping the audience guessing.
Fisher and Ross earn the major accolades and Fisher is a hoot-an-a-holler in drag. Jake Soss adds a touch of class since he shared the lead role in” Deathtrap with the scene stealing Fisher three months ago.
The bare stark stage is brought to life with light and sound by the creative team creating a burst dam with the sound of rushing water, a wildfire complete with smoke and an earthquake shaking and rumbling.
Running time is 90 minutes without intermission.
CAST: John Fisher as Clark/Parnell/Max; Gabriel A. Ross as Jason; Jacob Soss.as Cranston, Villain, Waiter, Jack and Man.
CREATIVE TEAM: David Draper (Costume Designer); John Fisher (Director); Sean Keehan (Lighting Designer); John Fisher (Set Designer); Stephanie Rose Niemann (Stage Manager).