EFF 2021 Reviews
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2020 Performing Artists
American Maniacs Unlimited - The 2020 End of Days Jamboree
Do you feel punched in the throat by the year 2020? Of course you do. And according to not doctors, laughter is the best medicine. Join American Maniacs Unlimited as they present a wacky, madcap celebration of the hellscape that is our current year. This is The 2020 End of Days Jamboree.
American Maniacs Unlimited 2020 presents End of Days Jamboree!
These goofy “maniacs” will get your smile on. No references to COVID here! Instead, immerse yourself for fifty minutes into a world of zany, satirical humor. With numerous skits to appeal to your funny bone(s), a few are sure to please.
My top picks are: “Rhino Juice,” the delusional mommy act (creepy good), macho Bernie, the “Blanche Fragilate,” and the Patriarchy of Gentlemen”. The fake ads are good for a couple of chuckles too.
The Bad Taste Crimecast
Do you enjoy tales of serial killers, insane crimes, and the occasional conspiracy? Join Janelle and Vicky of The Bad Taste Crimecast for this very special episode as they talk over the bizarro world of body snatching. All in bad taste of course!
Do you enjoy tales of serial killers, insane crimes, and the occasional conspiracy? Um.. heck yes I do!!! If you do too, you'll surely enjoy this episode. This is my first time tuning into Bad Taste Crimecast but now that I've seen/listened, I have to check out more! Macabre facts are some of my favorite facts💀 I hadn't heard of the second story and I was in awe the whole time listening!
Hosts Janelle O’Malley and Vicky Walters present viewers with true crime cases told in a casual narrative style. The two have good chemistry together, and it feels like they’re sharing stories with a group of friends having a fun evening together.
I liked the way the Crimecast is structured. Each host has her own story, based on true events from the distant and near past.The first tale, told by Janelle, hails from Scotland in the early 1800s. Then Vicky fast-forwards us to the first decade of our millennial era with her true crime tale, which takes place on the shores of America.
Although the “stage” is bare bones--think two TV newscasters--the photo and visual elements enhance the storytelling. Without the visuals, the crimecast wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is. In fact, more props, photos, and pictures would make the production stronger.
Overall, the Crimecast is a good way to gain insight into history in a most entertaining way. One thing is for sure--people don’t change. The same motives that drove criminals in the past continue to drive them today to commit their evil deeds. I learned a lot of fun and gruesome facts from the intrepid crimecasters, but nothing I would call “bad taste.” (Maybe that says more about me than them.) Tune in and judge for yourself!
Captain Ambivalent - Captain Ambivalent Is In Denial
Do you find sometimes real life's too hard to face? Escape to the fantasy world of Captain Ambivalent as he shares his songs, his toys, his imaginary friends, and his privilege to ignore everything bad! With Americana artist Buford P. Wallaby, Young Dan, Creepy David Bowie, Guy Slimey, and more!
Captain Ambivalent is in Denial
Do you like to laugh? Or I suppose (considering what’s been happening over the last few months), the better question would be, “Do you even remember what it’s like to laugh?” Well, Captain Ambivalent would like to remind you! In fact, before watching this show, be sure to warm up your cheek muscles because they’ll be getting a workout. A returning EFF favorite, Captain Ambivalent makes this virtual performance one to remember with a hysterical mix of new songs and old favorites. If you’ve been to any of the Captain’s past shows, you know that costume changes and characters are a big part of the draw. Being able to prerecord his set allows Cap to continue the costumed madness while also bringing in some charmingly lo-fi video effects that ramp up the funny.
Yet, as always, it’s the songs that are the real star of the show here. Captain Ambivalent is often compared to artists like “Weird” Al and They Might Be Giants. And while those comparisons are apt in that Captain Ambivalent’s songs limn big themes like consumerism, gender, loss of innocence, and environmentalism while wrapped in a deceptive cocoon of silliness and whimsy, it’s also true that Dan Biemer (CA’s civilian alter ego) is a one-of-a-kind voice and these songs couldn’t have come from anyone else. If your idea of a good time is an evening of whip-smart comic songs filtered through the lens of nerd culture and accompanied by a golden accordion, look no further; you have found what you’re looking for.
Ben Dudley - The Opinions of Men
"The world-changing Protestant Reformation unfolds in front of your eyes, as totally legitimate historians and cutting-edge animation bring the conflicts of 16th-century Europe to life in painstaking detail. This is what happens when two religions, picked to share a continent, stop being polite and start getting real."
Elgin Theatre Company - “Bits” from the “Bard”
When kept apart because of a pandemic from those in our lives who help connect us, we often find our lives diminished. We invite you to enjoy many of William Shakespeare’s famous monologues performed by our band of actors. Sit back and enjoy the likes of Richard III, Puck, Juliet, Helena, Henry V, and more. There will be no need for masks or social distancing to enjoy Elgin Theatre Company’s video performance in the Elgin 2020 Fringe Fest.
This video will also be sign acted!
I LOVE that these performances are ASL interpreted/performed. What a great way to connect us all during these times! Such talented Shakespearean actors, I felt transported to the Globe Theatre.
Chastity Gunn - Sacred Branches
Unfortunately, due to technical issues, this performance has been canceled. Be sure to check out Chasity Gunn's work in the Spring Fringe Reprise.
Hollow Chapels is a three-piece instrumental band from St. Charles, IL consisting of Nick Casali, CJ Weber, and Justin K. Heyde. Their sound ranges from slow and haunting to heavy and deafening. They will be providing a soundtrack to a film of original works which will be projected as they perform.
Hollow Chapels is a beautiful atmospheric work by an instrumental trio. The audio of this piece creates a dark and forbidding feel and the visuals paired with it help submerge the viewer further. The visuals begin quite heavy and violent as the music ramps up then the two mellow out nicely to a constant level of drama that is still not overwhelmingly over-encumbering to consume. Once the audio reaches this constant it creates for an almost meditative feeling due to the rhythmic consistency. All in all, this work does well to disconnect the viewer from the outside world through their audio and visual pairing for the duration of the piece.
Reviewed by K.D.
With the description stating that this three person instrumental band creates a dark and forbidding feel with visuals to help deepen the experience, I knew I HAD to check them out. I would recommend this to everyone! If you aren't someone who loves this type of music all the time, it's honestly perfect for anyone getting into this spooky season and those dark hearts who would love it all year round.
La Groove Fatale - LGF Remixed
It's La Groove Fatale as you've never seen them before! Dancing together but apart, they present "LGF Remixed," a show that blends favorite vintage choreographies and fresh new ones to create a visual feast that has been rehearsed and filmed remotely and edited into a single show through the magic of technology.
It is amazing to see how dance can be connected through technology during these times! The coordination and passion you can see in this performance is outstanding. You can get lost in the music and talent!
Judah Leblang - It’s Now or Never
"It’s Now or Never" is a fast-paced show about looking for love, getting older, and adventures on the road. Through a series of interconnected stories, Judah Leblang navigates middle age and times when man planned, and God laughed. A humorous and poignant look at living a creative life.
Judah Leblang is 60. He’s Jewish. He’s a writer. He’s also a keenly self-reflective performer whose one person show is a series of personal reminiscences that delight with their humor, insight, and grace. Through his stories, Leblang paints a self-portrait of a man in late middle age who can see his mortality on the horizon and is not content to just let it come to him. With an eye for detail and a wily sense of metaphor, Leblang’s show is wry, sad, optimistic, confessional, and deeply human.
- Jamey Bouwmeester
Living Cartoon - MINGALABA
MINGALABA is a Living Cartoon: pantomime, physicality, clown, puppetry, music, DIY, punk rock, stand up, and absurdism. Surprises abound and you will not fall into standard, boring tropes of the solo artist. Enjoy the festival and, if you see this show, please do spread the word. Best of SF Fringe 2018. You are also welcome to read or write thoughts at https://james.network/reviews/
MINGALABA reeks of the pure enthralling and chaotic energy of mindlessly clicking through TV channels on a humid summer afternoon. There’s nothing mindless about Sundquist’s performance though, as he commands you through a series of winding and awe-inspiring sketches and tidbits that cause everything you think you’ve learned about the show to come crashing down at your feet. Allow yourself to be transported to strange worlds as beguiling as TV, but without all the guilt of a Netflix binge.
All killer, no filler.
Living Cartoon - MINGALABA:
Living Cartoon was something else. But in a good way. The rate in which the subject matter changed kept me enthralled while the energy remained at a high by the performer. I’m not sure if this will make sense to many, if anyone at all - but the performance felt like a cross between the final scene of the film There Will Be Blood, what you would get if you were to SparkNote a Kurt Vonnegut book and the humor of a middle schooler if you asked them to do an improved one-man show. Absurd? Definitely.
Reviewed by: K.D.
Jacob Mayfield - This Video Can Read Your Mind
You don’t just watch this, you are part of it. This latest creation by Mind Reader Jacob Mayfield answers the question: Is it possible for a video to read your mind? If you follow along with a few simple materials, you can experience unexplainable phenomena virtually through your screen.
What an exciting experience! Usually, you watch as one person is chosen to be the volunteer but, with this virtual twist, each viewer is personally part of the magic. Make sure to grab the few household items needed for the show and dive in!
Jacob Mayfield Mind Reader/Mentalist. This is Jacob Mayfield’s second year at Fringe with another great show. Because Fringe is virtual it is a lot harder to do mind reading through a screen, so 90% of the show is magic, but I have to say, the magic is great! You're participating in Tricks from Coin tricks to swinging a pendulum. This show is great for all ages and you’ll love participating, grab your supplies, and you’ll be ready to do some magic.
Jacob Mayfield “This Video Can Read Your Mind”
OMG! Mayfield does have magic powers! Rent this performance, and you will be blown away. Even the most skeptical of you will learn some fun tricks to try on your doubting friends. This funhouse ride lasts about 36 minutes but it will take you out of this world!
Please note, this is a participatory vid, so be prepared to do a little “work” of your own. The rewards will be great! Worth every minute of your attention, I dare you to turn away!
Stand Up Comedian Krish Mohan is performing a brand new show via Zoom! The show will blend traditional Stand Up Comedy and Storytelling as well as some interactive segments and commentary on some news stories and segments.
The reviews are coming in!
Krish Mohan - Citizen Revolution is a politically driven ‘stand up’ comedy show filmed via virtual meeting place. The format alone is the strangest and most interesting thing to experience. Being held in a virtual format allowed for the performer to interact and openly discuss bits of the show with people in an organic way that would not typically happen if Mohan was on stage in a comedy club. It almost feels like a group of friends just hanging out and Mohan just happened to dominate the conversation.
Reflecting on the dialogue, Mohan takes many humorous jabs at various aspects of the U.S. government similar to that of the Late Night shows. The difference here is that Mohan has integrated many personal experiences of their own as well as an education element. You cannot get through this show without learning at least one thing or having your memory brushed up from your high school government courses. It is an interesting way to take on a comedy show since it is also very clearly pointing out flaws and absurdities in the U.S. government systems. Worth it if you’re in the mood to learn a bit while still having that information being cushioned by some pleasant jokes along the way.
Memoriam Development - In Memoriam
In Memoriam is the most unprepared show in the history of Virtual Fringe Theatre. Amanda, Nick, and Dave created(?) this half written, half made up show. This is not your typical comedy drama with good and bad singing, improv, and maybe completed scripts. Honestly, we’re not sure what this is.
Memoriam Development, the comedy duo of Nick and Amanda (with musical help from Dave) are back at the Elgin Fringe Festival with yet another show featuring all manner of comedy sketches – some pre-written, some fully improvised. It seems that the team took the virtual nature of this year’s Fringe as inspiration, as most of the sketches are Covid/quarantine themed, which lends a timeliness and “ripped from the headlines” feeling to the show. The sketches range from silly to surreal to satirical. Then, just when you are feeling like you could use a break from the comedy, they hit you with a short one-act play that’s both poignant and heartbreaking. But don’t worry, they come back to the funny to finish things out.
- Jamey Bouwmeester
MsPixy’s Big F*ckin’ Royalty Free Public Domain Fair Use Burlesque Show by MsPixy Productions
A diverse cast of striptease artists bump, grind, shimmy, and sparkle to an entirely royalty-free soundtrack! Gaze on as we twirl tassels to public domain tunes, gyrate wildly to our own original music, and disrobe to an inventive array of non-music sounds! Ages 18+ only. May cause delight and revolution.
MsPixy’s Big F*ckin’ Royalty Free Public Domain Fair Use Burlesque Show took the virtual stage and used it to their advantage. This show was the blending of burlesque performers from all over via virtual submissions. This format allowed for many of the performers to use editing abilities that would never be possible during a live and in person show. This brought a new and interesting element to the experience of burlesque as anything was possible. From green screening to montaging to traditional burlesque, all was included in Ms.Pixy’s show with her being a wonderful and witty MC between clips.
Reviewed by: K.D.
Mike Speller - Worst Cruises Ever!!
Fringe veteran Mike Speller offers two theatrical tales of ‘life at sea’: the tragic and the comic. One fateful day for The Flying Dutchman means centuries of punishment. The other Oddyssey is a kooky cookie-cutter version (literally) because Mr. O runs a food truck with the worst luck.
Mike Speller – Worst Cruises Ever
Mike Speller’s show, “Worst Cruises Ever” is a one-person performance relating two theatrical tales of ‘life at sea’. The first, "The Dutchman Journals," is the account of an 18th century Dutch East India trader sailing from the island of Java, around the Cape of Good Hope, and back to Amsterdam. The sailor’s story is presented via the contents of letters home to a young son. It begins with an adventurous and enjoyable tone – the sights and sounds of the exotic island, the comfortable familiarity of the ship and crew. However, just when it seems like home is just around the corner, a small but shocking incident changes everything.
Speller’s second story, “The Oddest Oddyssey,” is a tale of a wholly different sort. It’s the quirky, kooky fable of how a simple food truck owner’s dream becomes a nightmare. See, this wide-eyed gastro-entrepreneur seems to have some crazy connections to a particular hero of Greek antiquity, not to mention a huge grab-bag of allusions to other classic epics and fables from Homer through today (Walt Disney, Mother Goose, Scorsese, and Alexandre Dumas, to name just a few). Buckle up and get ready for a raucous, ridiculous, surreal ride.
Mike Speller’s Worst Cruise Ever! is a goofy and entertaining one man show that took me back to the feeling of being in a black box theatre. It is strange and full of energy and I would highly recommend gathering the kids around to keep ‘em entertained for an hour.
Nolan Webster - Virtual Magic & Mystery
Be an active part of a show in which telepathy will be demonstrated, futures will be predicted, secrets will be told, and more.
One of my personal favorite parts about Fringe are the magic shows. I love the secrecy, finesse, focus and persistence that goes into every trick, making you feel like you are witnessing the impossible. Conveying those aspects in-person is incredibly hard, and takes a lot of skill and practice. As many of us have learned over these past few months - communicating virtually can be, simply put, a struggle. And I cannot imagine the struggle a magician feels when he does not have a live audience. Despite this, Nolan Webster’s “Elgin Festival Magic and Mystery Show” was a laid-back, chill, and relaxed segment full of classical magic and mind-reading tricks. Webster’s show takes the format of a Zoom call, and includes 5 other participants. Webster engages directly with his participants, choosing someone different for every trick while asking them to “pick a card” or “think of a number”. At times, the show felt a little dragged out, and I think this is due to the virtual, pre-recorded format - I didn’t feel entirely engrossed in the show or the magic, more like I was watching a performance that I am not a part of. Nevertheless, Webster has a good attitude and genuine interest in the viewer's experience. Although this show is appropriate for all audiences, I would recommend this show to adults who are looking to witness some quizzical illusions, but are not expecting to be the magician's main subject.
- Graham Hunt
Nolan Webster Magician / Mind Reader. This show might be good for some, while others may not enjoy it as much. It’s important to know that you are not in the experience, you're watching others be part of it. The show featured classics from card tricks to choosing the correct envelope. Overall, Webster’s show was a little slow for me with getting to the main point, but other than that he has personality and it’s a good starter for The Fringe Marathon.
Spring Mini Fringe Reprise!
Did you miss the amazing artists from our 2020 Spring Mini Fringe? Never fear, this show contains the work of David Boyle, Chasity Gunn, and Madeline O'Malley all in one! Hop in!
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