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Hollywood Fringe 2024: The Transpiring

The Transpiring gets a fair amount of comic mileage out of a deliberately overbaked premise. Adoption counselor Vanessa (co-writer Veronica Carey Matthews) finds that her latest clients are actually her birth family, who have somehow received a message from her agency indicating that the son they gave up for adoption has been found.

There’s just one problem – well, more than one problem, but let’s start with the obvious one: Vanessa is no longer their son; she is a transgender woman, and she is acutely embarrassed about revealing herself to them. Complicating matters, gender transition is not the only transformation Vanessa has undergone in the intervening years: she was also attacked by an unseen bloodsucker in a dark alley years ago, which makes her not only trans but also a vampire. As she notes in pun that is amusing precisely because it is lame, “I’m a transpire.”

What follows is an amusing comedy in which circumstances force the reluctant Vanessa to gradually reveal the full truth about herself. Eventually, we learn that the reunion between Vanessa and her family was contrived – for reaons of his own – by Robbie, the vampire who bit Vanessa, forcing her to finally confront the man who made her one of the living dead.

Along the way there are clever references to not only to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Vanessa works at Wrenfield Adoption Agency and lunches with her family at Little Bram’s Kitchen) but also to J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla (Vanessa rents her apartment from an unseen woman of that name – presumably the vampire countess from the novella).

The Transpiring stage review
The vampire kidnaps Vanessa’s family.

The Transpiring bills itself as a hip-hop musical, which means that the characters occasionally perform spoken word rhymes to recorded backing tracks. It feels a bit like a contrived way to make a musical that would not require actors with a strong vocal range, but at least the rhythm tracks are catchy.

There is even a rap battle at the end between Vanessa and Robbie, which falls a little flat. Basically, Vanessa wins because she refuses to lose – not because she’s undergone any character growth or learned anything that would enable her to defeat her opponent.

Aggravating the situation, just before the curtain falls, there is yet another revelation about Vanessa, which contradicts much of what we know about her. Presumably, this is intended as a final comic absurdity, but it makes her victory seem pretty much inevitable, raising questions about why she ever doubted herself. In fact, why was she afraid that her vampire nature made her one of the damned, and why was she reluctant to reveal herself to her family when the ultimate truth is so fabulous it would eclipse anything else?

The ending is not enough to ruin The Transpiring, but it is unfortunate to see the play stumble so badly on the finish line.

The Transpiring

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

The Transpiring stage reviewDecent comedy in which an orphan must explain uncomfortable truths when tracked down by her birth family: (1) she is now transgender, and (2) she is a vampire. Which will the family have a harder time understanding?

The Transpiring wraps up its run at Hollywood Fringe Festival 2024 with an 8:30pm performance on Saturday June 29 in The Hobgoblin Playhouse (Main Space), 6440 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. Update: the play gets an encore performance on Sunday, July 14 at 6pm. Get more information here.

Credits: Written by Veronica Carey and Cherise Pascual. Produced by Carey, Pascual, and Kevin Neighbors. Choreography by Soda Persi. Directed by Spencer Frankeberger.

Cast: Veronica Carey Matthews as Vanessa, Andrew Thatcher as Robbie (the vampire), Cherise Pascual as Denise, Kevin Neighbors as Stephen, Lisa K. Wyatt as Jamie, Sammi Lappin as Irene, Les as Solomon.

The Transpiring Photo Gallery

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.