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Review: This ‘Elephant Room’ Sequel Is a Goofball Epic

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Overview: This ‘Elephant Room’ Sequel Is a Goofball Epic

If even the mildest, most intimate play struggles to translate on-line, you’d assume a comic book interstellar journey could be not possible to drag off. And but.

Within the goofball epic “Elephant Room: Mud From the Stars,” three endearingly dorky magicians journey from their basement rec rooms to outer area, the place they find yourself discovering a mysterious “gathering place.” It’s “Wayne’s World” crossbred with “Spinal Faucet” and “2001: A Area Odyssey,” concurrently very humorous and unexpectedly touching.

The present, a part of the Fringe Pageant in Philadelphia, packs lots in simply over an hour and is essentially the most resourceful, gleefully entertaining new theater piece I’ve seen in the course of the pandemic. Sure, all of it occurs on Zoom. Sure, there are tips, a few of them involving the viewers. And sure, it’s potential to chuckle alone in entrance of your laptop.

New Yorkers may keep in mind mentioned magicians from their look at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2012. “Elephant Room” — the brand new present will get a grandiose subtitle, as sequels are inclined to do — launched Dennis Diamond (performed by Geoff Sobelle), Daryl Hannah (Trey Lyford) and Louie Magic (Steve Cuiffo) as dorky-cool suburbanites with a fixation on sleight-of-hand and Eighties male hair stunts.

These foundational parts are nonetheless current eight years later, because the trio welcome us, their fellow illusionists, to our magic society’s month-to-month assembly. “I hope you’ve a ticket for each,” Dennis instructed one of many Zoom attendees, who was watching together with her cat.

We went by the agenda: minutes; dues; Louie, who seemed to be in a wood-paneled basement, executing a trick with 5 mugs and a billiard ball, adopted by one with ESP playing cards like these utilized by Invoice Murray in “Ghostbusters.” The feats of mentalism elicited all-cap messages like “WHOAH” and “STOP IT” within the chat window — the Zoom equivalents of gasps.

It’s all nice enjoyable, however “Mud From the Stars” actually takes off when it actually takes off.

Directed, like the sooner one, by Paul Lazar, the present deftly mixes the lo-fi aesthetics of finances science fiction (Louie’s communication system appears suspiciously like a bathe attachment) with dopey humor and experimental theater’s sensibility. The final doesn’t come as a shock: Sobelle is an everyday on arty levels, each on his personal (“The Object Lesson” and “Residence”) and with Lyford (“All Put on Bowlers”); Cuiffo is an precise magician who has carried out verbatim re-creations of Lenny Bruce’s acts. (The units are by Julian Crouch, whose work has been seen on Broadway and on the Metropolitan Opera.)

After Daryl recounts a nighttime encounter involving flashing lights and mysterious creatures, we change to a galaxy the place Louie “was volunteered to make first contact.” He disappears and his buddies set out “to search out him in our land buggy that flies and stuff.” At this level, the present begins integrating the actors into elaborate backdrops and movies (the movies are credited to Derrick Belcham and Lyford), peaking in an astonishing closing scene during which the galactic vacationers discover themselves in a ghostly locale. It’s, like what preceded, very humorous, however this time the laughs might catch in your throat.

Elephant Room: Mud From the Stars
Reside performances on Zoom by Sept. 26.

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