FRINGE 2019 CRITIC'S PICK: 'Live Nukes'

From The Central Scrutinizers of Chicago comes a relentlessly funny, meticulously executed clown pas de deux that takes the audience joyously through hell and back

click to enlarge "Live Nukes!" - Provided by Cincinnati Fringe Festival
Provided by Cincinnati Fringe Festival
"Live Nukes!"

Lasso the next passing nuclear missile and get yourself to Gabriel’s Corner pronto for some can’t-miss, quintessential Fringe. From The Central Scrutinizers of Chicago comes a relentlessly funny, meticulously executed clown pas de deux that takes the audience joyously through hell and back.

It’s Jeffy’s first day on the job as nuclear arsenal caretaker. Clad in a red Dickie’s coverall and channeling a bumptious Jim Nabors, Jeffy is being shown the ropes by Boseefus (my best alliteration; the entire play is in a fictional language), the wily veteran in matching blue coverall. When in his exuberance Jeffy accidentally launches a deadly payload into the sky, a madcap effort ensues to save humanity from destruction. After launching themselves on another missile to try and catch the first bogey, the pair manage to be dumped into the sea, disfigure a passing motorist, hold a tent revival-style funeral, catch the rogue warhead from the back of a motorcycle, and eventually sacrifice themselves to save humanity. Naturally, the show culminates in a lightsaber and robot suit battle royale with Satan.

With nary a prop, nor even a whiff of lighting, scenic or sound design, Taylor Brewerton and Kevin Duvall create an expansive universe of fantastical situations, yet never leave a doubt as to precisely where they are and what they’re up against. The duo are craftsmen at the height of their abilities executing a masterclass in mime and physical comedy. Their remarkable clowning acumen is matched only by their wit, imagination and physical endurance. Indeed, in the final throws of the fast-paced fantasia, one wonders if the glistening Brewerton and Duvall have their own nuclear reservoirs hidden under those coveralls.

In front of a sparse — but wholly engaged crowd of mostly Fringe diehards — The Central Scrutinizers delivered what is surely one of the highlights of a strong 2019 Festival. With only two performances remaining, I recommend you get your tickets before we’re all blown to smithereens.


The Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 15. Find showtimes, tickets and more info here. Check out more reviews from our CityBeat team here. For a comprehensive list click here.



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