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Writer turns spam scam into laughs

Special to The Times

In 2003, Dean Cameron opened a desperate e-mail from a so-called Nigerian prisoner, “Dr. Mrs. Miriam Achaba,” pleading for assistance in liberating $30 million. Instead of deleting, Cameron sent a reply: “Great! Do you have any toast?”

The correspondence that this impudence generated forms the double-dealing impetus of “Urgent & Confidential: Dean Cameron’s Nigerian Spam Scam Scam” at Sacred Fools Theater. Writer-actor Cameron’s bald-faced recounting of his ongoing Internet shell game with African grifters is doubly hilarious for being true.

A crowd pleaser at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, “Urgent & Confidential” plays as straight-faced seminar, with music stands, laptops, projections and the stranger-than-fiction text. Passing himself off as a fey Florida millionaire, Cameron baits widowed “Miriam” and/or her son, “Ibrahim” (Victor Isaac) into ever-more convoluted responses. The befuddled criminal element falls for Cameron’s outlandish stream of typos, misnomers and intrusions by a Filipino houseboy, a spastic colon and the legal team of Perry Mason and Owen Marshall. Visual jokes include received shots of “Miriam,” Google-obtained felines, and a dandy guacamole recipe.

Under Paul Provenza’s direction, Cameron whirls between himself and his invented personas like Larry David on happy dust. He and the desert-dry Isaac are screamingly funny in their fluctuating reactions, and Sacred Fools mainstay Aldrich Allen makes a gonzo surprise appearance.

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With computer fraud allegations bombarding the nation from home offices to polling places, “Urgent & Confidential” offers a slight but tonic counter-offensive.

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‘Urgent & Confidential’

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Dean Cameron’s Nigerian Spam Scam Scam

Where: Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Ends: Dec.18

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Price: $10

Contact:(310) 281-8337 or www.sacredfools.org

Running time: 55 minutes


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