A really great review from the Reno show. Not just because it’s a good review, anesthetist but he also writes about a couple of the important ideas. (important in terms of the show… not in terms of the real world)
BY FORREST HARTMAN • FORREST @ RGJ.COM • JULY 31, physician 2008
Nearly everyone has received one: An e-mail from a supposed Nigerian, desperate for assistance from an American who will help retrieve millions of dollars from the Nigerian government. Usually, the e-mailer promises a huge sum to the kind soul who provides a few thousand dollars for bribes or other incidental expenses.
Most people recognize the scam and delete the message immediately, but there are those who respond. Dean Cameron, architect of “The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam” theatrical production, says the results can be disastrous. In some cases, Cameron noted during his Tuesday night Artown show, Nigerian scammers have kidnapped and killed Americans. So, he didn’t feel at all bad for striking up a long-running correspondence with a scammer and turning it into an extremely funny show.
In presentation, “Spam Scam Scam” is simple. Cameron and his costar, Victor Isaac, stand behind podiums. Each has a laptop, and they do the production reader’s theater style, illustrating points with graphics displayed on a large screen between them. Sometimes, Cameron even pauses to play recordings of actual phone conversations.
This is theater for the electronic age, with computers and digital photos key to both the show’s presentation and concept. The technology does not, however, make things sterile or cold. Cameron’s personality is infectious, and his sharp sense of humor is everywhere.
“Spam Scam Scam” starts lecture-style, with Cameron talking in brief generalities about Nigerian scams. Then, just when it seems he will deliver a PowerPoint lecture, he slips on a red satin smoking jacket and takes on the affectations of a very different Dean Cameron. This version lives in Florida, is more than a little off balance and was able to pique his scammer’s interest with one simple line.
“Great! Do you have any toast?”
What follows is snippets of Cameron’s correspondence with his Nigerian pal, carefully edited to keep things moving. Cameron reads his portion of the e-mail with a nasally voice and zest, and on the opposite end of the stage, Isaac handles the responses. While it’s likely that one man wrote all of the e-mails to Cameron, they supposedly came from multiple people, so Isaac creates distinct characters for each. And he is great.
Even better than the performances, is the material itself, all culled from the most unlikely conversations you can imagine. Cameron repeatedly prodded his would-be conman with purposeful typos and ridiculous misunderstandings, including references to the Western Onion wire service, a request to know which city he should visit in Amsterdam and the following jewel, written in response to a request to ship money via DHL.
“Who is DHL? Is that a hockey league. There is a minor league hockey team in Miami, but I don’t think they are Nigerian.”
Folks who want to read more of the correspondence, can do so at Cameron’s Web site — www.spamscamscam.com — but that’s not as much fun as watching Cameron and Isaac deliver the lines live.
If this show ever makes it back to Reno, theater lovers will do well to attend.
Pretty nifty, eh? I like the good reviews. Especially when they’ve actually been watching and listening!