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2013 IndyFringe Festival review guide 

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click to enlarge Phil van Hest at ComedySportz - DANIEL AXLER
  • Phil van Hest at ComedySportz
  • Daniel Axler

Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre, The Phoenix (reviews by the team at missionintrigueindy.com)

I Said "NO!"
Indianapolis Metropolitan Theatre Company
★★★1/2
A delightful and earnest one-woman show by Susan Bennet, who opens up about her life choices and failures in an honest, compelling manner. From the moment she steps on stage, her warm personality invites you into her story. She's not afraid to show you how hurt she is by the results of relationships gone bad. Often she comes off as if she is reliving the pain all over just by sharing. I applaud Bennet for working with director Timothy Taylor. I've seen plenty of one-person shows with great material that would have greatly benefited from an outside set of eyes. By contrast, this polished production is simply staged - with a few effective song cues - and free of gimmicks. - Justin Brady

Medea
Amber Bastards
★★★
A quick refresher: Medea marries Jason and bears him a child. Ten years later, Jason takes another wife. To punish her husband, Medea plans to kill their child. Why? The perfect revenge tactic. You go after the thing that person loves most. I walked in expecting an updated translation, but was surprised to hear the chorus kick things off by chanting from the Euripides text. The five-person ensemble, led by a courageous and aggressive Medea (Rachel Linder), spoke with confidence and intent. However, awkward pauses for dramatic effect made the piece a bit tedious. An actor decision or a shout-out to the ancient style? Who knows? I wasn't around in 406 BC. - Paige Scott

Yelling at Bananas in Whole Foods
Dan Bernitt
★★★★1/2
In his latest monologue, Bernitt, one of the most fully engaged performers you'll see at the Fringe, details his journey from a desolate New Mexico artist colony to a public breakdown in a NYC Whole Foods. While some of his life experiences are more unusual than most and make for a great story in and of themselves, it's Bernitt's ability to fantastically describe ordinary details that take his writing a step above most. He could easily leave behind the world of theatre and follow in the footsteps of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs. And like those authors, he isn't afraid to share the details that make him look less favorable, including the aftermath of a one-night stand gone wrong and phone call confessionals with his mother. - Justin Brady

A Baptist Girl's Guide to Sex, Love and Happiness
Lou Ann Homan
★★★★
Homan, a Storytelling Arts regular and Angola, Ind. native, opens her monologue by telling of when she asked a taxi driver if he believes in happily ever after. The rest of her journey follows from there, as she asks the same question of herself at various points - from how her world crashed when she learned the truth about puberty, and through college, marriage and children. Homan mixes life lessons with observational humor, and I could have listened to her for hours. I have a feeling this Baptist girl will stick with me for a while. - Karen Hurt

Underneath the Lintel
Pat O'Brien's Vanity Theatrics
★★★★★
Veteran TV actor Pat O'Brien gives an exquisite performance as an eccentric, frazzled librarian setting out on the adventure of his life. His journey begins as an earnest effort to track down a library book 123 years overdue. This romp around the world is so well written by Glen Berger and so incredibly performed by O'Brien that it's almost hard to believe it can be seen on a Fringe stage. Clearly, O'Brien is relishing having a role this meaty, having toured with it for four years. Repeat sellouts indicate audiences are savoring the opportunity to see the show in Indianapolis. - Justin Brady

Wry
Sarsparilla Shook Productions
★★★1/2
The story follows the life of Phoebe Caulfield 30 years after the denouement of Catcher in the Rye. She is in therapy, depressed and recently divorced. For 40 minutes she talks about her childhood abandonment issues and how she copes with her brother's indifference. It's a captivating show. I watched it seated next to a father and his teenage son. The teenage son was not amused, and Phoebe's monologue was accompanied by his angsty sighs. I felt like I was actually watching the show with Holden. And my Holden left during a key moment in the show, as the "real" Holden might've. One way to avoid missing everybody is to not even engage in the first place. All part of the magic, or noise, of the Fringe. - Paige Scott

Joe's Cafe
Rupert Wates and Friends
★★1/2
With nothing but his black suit and his two guitars, Rupert Wates spins tale after tale - tragic, dramatic, and sometimes politically-charged stories that span the fabric of the American experience. Wates's compositions mostly tend toward a lively style of jazz-folk, reminiscent of Leon Redbone but with a less sardonic, more earnest tone. He sings of unrequited love, of loners pining for acceptance, even of the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell in his song "50 Shots." - Grant Catton

The Greatest Speech of All Time
Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
The Greatest Speech of All Time
★★★1/2
Mooney captures the context in which each speech was spoken and the character of each speaker at the time he spoke. The program, including Socrates, Mark Antony [via Shakespeare), Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr., collectively highlights what makes a life worthwhile and what makes a worthwhile life. Themes cluster around liberty, justice, righteousness, equality and vision. Mooney delivers on his intention "to give life to the words for emotional connections." Mark Antony is his most powerful presentation; Churchill most chilling in terms of its consequences. - Rita Kohn

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