I currently have within my reach the sum of Forty-Two Million United States dollars….

The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (HFF 2015)userpic=fringeYesterday afternoon, something very rare happened after attending a 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) show: I turned to my wife, and wondered, “Gee, I wonder if I could get CISSP CPE credit for this show?” Even rarer was my wife’s response, “Perhaps we should think about this as entertainment for the conference?” Perhaps I should explain…

Although you may think I’m a professional theatre reviewer (I’m not; I just love to share theatre with friends) or a Caltrans worker (I’m not; just a hobbiest highway historian), in real life I’m a cybersecurity expert (as I’ve recently written). It is rare to find a theatre offering that touches upon my field of expertise, so when I saw The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (FB, non-HFF website) on the HFF schedule, I just had to get tickets. Nigerian Spam is one of those areas that people think never works, but it gets just enough of a response (when you’re sending out 10 million emails for free, even a fractional percentage response is great). If people are gullible enough to fall for the scam, they are gullible enough to click on malware links in email.

Here’s the description of the show from the Fringe website, which is as good as the description I might write: ““Please help me transfer $100 million from Bank of Nigeria!” We’ve all gotten this e-mail. Writer performer Dean Cameron did something about it. After he received an email from a Nigerian con artist posing as the wife and son of a dead Nigerian leader, Cameron replied. Posing as a sexually confused Florida millionaire, whose only companions were his cats, houseboy, and personal attorney, Perry Mason. Cameron embarked on a 11 month correspondence with  the bewildered and tenacious Nigerian, impeccably played by co-star Victor Isaac. This hit duologue, taken from actual email threads, documents the hilarious relationship as it descends into a miasma of misunderstanding, desperation, and deception.”

That is literally the show. Two podiums and a digital projector. Dean Cameron (FB, IMDB) relates the story of how he baited along Nigerian spammers, with the ultimate goal of getting them to send him money. Co-star Victor Isaac (FB) provides the voices of the spammer side, from MRS MARIAM ABACHA to IBRAHIM ABACHA to DR DONALD ABAYOMI. The story itself is pretty much just condensed versions of the actual email dialogue, with hysterical side commentary and the occasional visual.

In short, Cameron has done something all of us has wanted to do: lead along a spammer and get them caught up in the game. If you’re in the cybersecurity biz, you’ll find this hilarious (and a great demonstration that the spammers are no smarter than the great unwashed public). If you’re not in the cybersecurity biz, you’ll find this hilarious just for what Cameron got away with. This is just an hour or so of pure fun and humor.

This show reminded me at bit of the recent musical, Loopholes, that we saw at the Hudson. In Loopholes, the authors took a real life absurd situation and turned into into a stage musical to highlight to the world the absurdity. It is similar in The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam: an absurd situation is presented on stage to highlight the absurdity of the interplay. Wisely, the authors of Nigerian decided to stay with the duologue route, eschewing the inherent musical possibilities. Although (I must note) to hear them talk, one never knows….

About my only complaint is that there is no program, so that there is no way to acknowledge the technical, support, and producing team. Mike Blaha is listed on the Fringe website, but his exact role (producer? director?) is not stated.

There are two performances left of The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam at the Fringe: June 22 (Monday) and June 27 (Saturday). If you can get tickets, go see it. If not, well, do you think we should book it as entertainment after the Conference Dinner?

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  REP East (FB), The Colony Theatre (FB), and Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Today the craziness continue with The Count of Monte Cristo – The Musical  (FB) (HFF) at  the Lounge Theatre (FB) in the afternoon, and  Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) in the evening. The Fringe craziness ends with Medium Size Me, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Thursday 6/25 and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Saturday. June ends with our annual drum corps show in Riverside on Sunday. July begins with “Murder for Two” at the Geffen Playhouse (FB) on July 3rd, and “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) on July 4th. July 11th brings “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB). The following weekend brings “The History Boys” at the Stella Adler Theatre (FB) on Saturday (Goldstar), and “Green Grow The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) on Sunday.  July 25th brings “Lombardi” at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB), with the annual Operaworks show the next day. August starts with “As You Like It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB), and is followed by the summer Mus-ique show, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” at  The Colony Theatre (FB). After that we’ll need a vacation! September right now is mostly open, with the only ticketed show being “The Diviners” at REP East (FB) and a hold-the-date for “First Date” at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB). October will bring another Fringe Festival: the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB). October also has the following as ticketed or hold-the-dates: Kelrik Production (FB)’s Urinetown at the Monroe Forum Theatre (Hold for Sat 10/3);  “Mrs. A. Lincoln” at The Colony Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/10); and  “Damn Yankees” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for Sat 10/17). As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.


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