Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


The Legend of Pink
Theatre Rhinoceros
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's reviews of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Luna Gale and Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations and Richard's reviews of Reefer Madness, An American in Paris, How I Learned to Drive and Back from Iraq


Charles Peoples III
Photo by David Wilson
Theatre Rhinoceros is presenting the world premiere of Kheven LaGrone's The Legend of Pink, the real-life story of Miss Waters, who is known as Pink (and whom I met on opening night). The drama is about the trials and troubles of Pink (Charles People III), who lives in the basement of a crack house in Oakland in 1989. She is a dazzling, transgender party girl who has done her bedroom all in pink, her favorite color.

We first see Pink as she is on the phone, talking to DeShawn (Maurice André San-Chez), an inquisitive college kid from San Francisco. We see DeShawn, an African American who grew up in a white community in San Francisco, teased about being told he is "a good black, not a real black." He recently crossed the Bay Bridge to Oakland to go to "a club with real black people." DeShawn is moderately wealthy, has flashy clothes, and drives a Mercedes. Pink is impressed with his wealth. Meanwhile, Pink's lover Ace (R. Shawntez Jackson) is not thrilled with DeShawn's arrival. Nikki (Phaedra Tillery), Pink's "tell it like it is" best friend, warns Pink that her rich boy is mistrustful and an unwanted interloper in their world.

Kheven LaGrone has written four characters who are fascinating. His dialogue is authoritative and effective. The performances of all four actors are striking. Charles Peoples III is outstanding as Pink, as he flounces about, spouting phrases like "Sometimes I think in French." Maurice André San-Chez is spellbinding as DeShawn. He comes stage forward midway in the drama in a bright white spotlight to declare his blackness. He will now and henceforth be himself, he says. R. Shawntez Jackson brings danger and helplessness to his role of Ace. Phaedra Tillery is wonderful as Nikki, the voice of the neighborhood.

Scenic designer Bert vanAaslburg bathes the bedroom set in pink, and costume designer Kitty Muntzel has done chic pink outfits for Pink. AeJay Mitchell directs this absorbing drama with rapid speed.

Bottom Line: The Legend of Pink is the riveting account of the drug wars in late 20th century Oakland, as Pink does her best to bring a bit of beauty to the harsh environment.

The Legend of Pink runs through September 30, 2017, at the Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. Tickets may be obtained at www.therhino.org or by calling 800-838-3006 Their next production is Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart running from November 3 through November 25.


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