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July 2, 2019:

Transactions reviewed by Rob Stevens

TransActions is umbrella title for a collection of five short LGBTQ plays that were presented at the Lounge Theatre as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Kristin Towers-Rowles directed them and Michael Mullen appeared in each. The female cast members—Gwen Hollander and Lisaun Whittingham—performed songs between some of the pieces, covering minimal set and costume changes. It was a nice way to bridge the plays, especially given one song was the delightfully robust “An Old-Fashioned Love Story” by Andrew Lippa from his musical The Wild Party. “A Song For Jenny,” written by Hollander and Mullen, got the show off to a bumpy and non-indicative start. Mullen played a bitter, dismissive casting agent who puts an actress through a hellish audition, finally admitting she was probably right for the role but he would prefer to play the female role himself. “Outside, Looking In,” written by Michael David, was an interesting and humorous meeting of opposites. Gail (Whittingham), married to a man for 25 years, finally attempts to explore her lesbian tendencies but makes the mistake of approaching Trixie (Mullen), a cross-dresser. “Alexis,” written by Mullen and Louise Hung, was a multi-scene family saga of young Daniel (Mullen) who want to transition to the female Alexis. First the father abandons the family and then the mother (Whittingham) throws Daniel out of the house, causing a 10-year estrangement between mother and son (Corey Rieger) and the outcast son, which ends only upon the mother’s death. This was the longest piece in the group and could do with some trimming—it seems to end several times before it actually does. The final two pieces, “Nirvana” and “I Feel Like A Woman,” written by Mullen, were basically monologues highlighting his sexual and gender identity issues with his patented sense of humor and honesty. Honesty was the keynote of TransActions.


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