Hollywood Fringe 2017 Reviews: World Premiere Comedies ‘Uncle Henry’ and ‘Zombie Clown Trump’

Uncle Henry: Dead, Burned and Remembered
Written, Produced and Directed by Mark McCracken and Brandon Gibson.
World Premiere
Reviewed Thursday, June 8, 2017, at Hollywood Fringe

Mark McCracken and Brandon Gibson throw plenty of fast-paced improv into a narrative structure with hilarious results in Uncle Henry: Dead, Burned and Remembered. The comedians seamlessly incorporate audience suggestions as they sketch a manic biography of the late, maybe not so great Uncle Henry Tallywhacker.

Audience members are asked to submit words of their choosing as they enter the theater, and some of these words are woven into the ever-evolving story. A few lucky victims are also selected to portray characters to whom lines are fed by McCracken.

At Thursday night’s performance, the participants picked to portray the doctor, nurse and coroner put their own amusing spins on the line readings, which added to the fun.

McCracken and Gibson work together like a well-oiled machine, taking cues from each other with lightning speed. Morphing into a gallery of different characters as directed by audience prompts, they mine comic gold from awkward situations.

Uncle Henry: Dead, Burned and Remembered plays Friday, June 23 at 8:30 p.m. at The Ruby Theatre at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets and more information can be obtained on the Fringe site.

Zombie Clown Trump: An Apocalyptic Musical
Created by Rick Cipes
World Premiere
Reviewed Thursday, June 8, 2017, at Hollywood Fringe

Zombie Clown Trump is a well-intentioned satire of the Trump presidency, but it’s a hit-or-miss collection of gags and song spoofs that are too random to form a cohesive whole. However well-deserved this righteous anger may be, there are too many targets and too many underdeveloped plot points here to make for a satisfying satire.

Four performers (Cipes, Craig Aldrich, Dani Savka, Maegan Mandarino) portray various characters in Trump’s orbit, including wife Barbania, daughter SriLanka and White House spokesman Sean Sphincter.

They figure in an overall story about Trump’s transformation into a zombie as he schemes to become the permanent ruler of the world. SriLanka is kidnapped and becomes a Muslim sympathizer, Barbania becomes infatuated with the Rock (who is planning a presidential run of his own), Sphincter is having an identity crisis, and Trump is just trying to keep the nation under his thumb.

The show features song parodies set to the music of Cee Lo Green, Madonna and the Beatles. While some are amusing on their own, they don’t fit organically into the plot, such as it is. And while the performances register (especially Mandarino’s lusty Barbania and Aldrich’s profane Sphincter), there’s just too much going on.

Zombie Clown Trump: An Apocalyptic Musical plays June 23 and 24 in the OMR Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets can be obtained on the Fringe site.

Kurt Gardner


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