Rogue Reviews: Delusions and Grandeur/Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host: Married to PETA & Other Untold Tales From an American Filipino Life/The Great Gorbolski

Mar 6, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Mallory Moad, Music, Rogue Festival

by Mallory Moad

The Rogue Festival is here! It is taking place March 1-9 in the Tower District of Fresno. Here are 3 more Rogue show review, with still more to come over the next few days! You will be able to find all of our reviews, and our performer preview articles, and our article about Rogue 2024 in our Rogue Festival section here at KRL, and you can find more Rogue Festival information on our Rogue event page over on KRL News! There you will find press releases and extra info! You can also go to the Rogue Festival website for more info and to purchase tickets.

Delusions and Grandeur

A beautiful woman wearing an elegant black dress is seated onstage, devouring a sandwich like it’s her last meal on earth and talking with her mouth full. Thus begins the prologue for Delusions and Grandeur, a classical music/clown show hybrid from Karen Hall.

For the next hour, Karen expounds on the pressure of expectations, sexism in the world of classical music, her relationship with her cello, and the burdens that come from being the best. It sounds heavy but Karen is also trained in clowning (think Bill Irwin, not Bozo) and comically uses physical and visual devices, as well as her words, to illustrate her story and prevent it from sinking into the depths of darkness. Being slowly swallowed by her dress during a manic diatribe about the Mona Lisa is as nutty as it sounds. As the show progresses, the trappings of a classical musician are stripped away, literally and humorously.

Karen’s style is personable and versatile, drawing the audience into conversation like your BFF one moment, teetering on the edge of insanity the next. But when she sits down with her cello to play Bach, the audience is spellbound. Using these exquisite musical interludes to effectively punctuate and enhance her monologues, they never come off as self-indulgent. You don’t have to understand or like classical music to enjoy Karen’s production. And if you come out thinking all you’ve seen is a fabulous cello recital, you probably weren’t paying attention. It’s a little Mozart in The Jungle with a touch of Lily Tomlin and a whole lot of originality.

Remaining shows at The Lotus Room, 626 E. Olive Ave., on March 8 at 5:30 p.m. and March 9 at 8 p.m.

Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host: Married to PETA and Other Untold Tales From an American Filipino Life

The opening of Emil Guillermo’s Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host: Married to PETA and Other Untold Tales From an American Filipino Life feels like a standup comedy act on open mic night. There are bad jokes, wife jokes, typically stupid sex jokes, jokes about Bill Gates, and more bad jokes. Then Emil lets us in on a secret: the dark stuff is coming. Like an opening act in Las Vegas, this is just the warmup, as goofy as it is.

Emil describes his one-man show as “stand-up drama and comic narrative,” which pretty much covers it. Much of the performance focuses on his experiences as an American Filipino. And with an impressive resume – print journalist, writer, television reporter, radio talk show host, activist – Emil has an extensive collection. But wait – there’s more! Emil throws in some history of Filipinos in America but coming from this animated performer, it’s storytelling, not lecture. During the next hour (which feels much shorter thanks to Emil’s high-energy style), the audience is treated to tales about his success in broadcasting as well as the prevalent racism in that profession. He channels his father, creating a chatty sidekick who tells jokes about Donald Trump. We learn about the Filipino landing in California and author Norman Mailer’s unorthodox influence on Emil’s career goals.

Emil is able to weave humor into even the heavier subjects, often concluding stories with comic commentary that feels appropriate, never in bad taste. The result is a show that is entertaining and uplifting. This lost NPR host has definitely found a place at the Rogue Festival.

Remaining shows at The Lotus Room, 626 E. Olive Ave., on March 7 at 5:30 p.m. and March 9 at 5 p.m.

The Great Gorbolski

The Gorbolski family lives in the mythical country of Salamiland, and you get to meet them all in The Great Gorbolski, a wacky, non-PC one-man comedy show by San Francisco’s Tin Tan Teatro.

We first meet the patriarch, the Great Gorbolski himself, wearing a top hat and playing a klezmer-ish tune on his violin (and he can really play). There really isn’t much of a plot to speak of but there are plenty of characters to make up for it, all of whom speak with the same Boris-and-Natasha/Borat accent. The most memorable is a cowboy who, for some unexplained reason, sounds like he’s from Texas. Plucking a banjo, he serenades us with a tune about picking pickles. There’s some imaginative use of found objects along the way, including a chair that becomes Sasquatch, a jet pack, and a trap. The dialogue is definitely R rated, particularly during a Homeland Security officer’s double-entendre loaded telephone conversation.

Although somewhat uneven at times and in need of a little tightening up, The Great Gorbolski is full of potential and revels in the true spirit of fringe performance, something for which this production definitely deserves recognition.

Remaining performances at The Lotus Room, 626 E. Olive Ave., March 8 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 3:30 p.m.

If you love theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


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