Indianapolis Fringe Festival (slideshow)
Like the cyborgs on our cover from Q Artistry's Bot, we cannot be stopped. We are made of durable critical alloys, with adamantine authenticity detectors, hyper-sensitive blocking radar and Acme brand laugh meters nestled deep within our guts. But like Johnny Five, we are most definitely alive. And so we give this comprehensive Fringe review package to you with love. Keep in mind that we often saw opening night performances, so some kinks may have been worked out (or may have developed) by the time you check these out. Fringe runs through Sunday, Aug. 26, with the final show starting at 10:30 p.m.; head to indyfringe.org for a complete schedule.
Reviews by Grant Catton, Katherine Coplen, Katelyn Coyne, Dan Grossman, Rita Kohn, Stacey Mickelbart, Scott Shoger
Intimate Opera of Indianapolis
Yes, there’s more to Gustav Holst’s repertoire than The Planets. Savitri is a 3-character chamber opera based on a Hindu legend. Death tells Savitri he’s taking her husband. She says she respects Death’s right to take a life. Touched, Death grants her a wish. She asks for her right to live, adding that she needs her husband in order to live fully, thus tricking Death into restoring her husband. Framed by two Holst hymns, Intimate Opera layers more mysticism on this simple story, with scenic design by Kyle Ragsdale that seems like one of his paintings come alive. Fine singing, acting, music, makeup and costuming couldn't quite make up for the absence of clear articulation. (Rita Kohn)
Thu 7:30 p.m., Sat 9 p.m., Sun 10:30 p.m.
The Blue Monkey Sideshow
As always, the Blue Monkey crew do stuff you definitely don't want to do at home, including walking on glass, resting on a board of nails, hanging stuff from earlobes and attaching toys to nostrils. The faint of heart are compelled to look away as the rest of the audience eggs the sword swallower to on greater dangers. It’s a living remnant of kind of traveling circus troupe that flaunted danger, making especially pertinent the Ringmaster’s double-edged question: Why do we do this? Why do you come? (Rita Kohn)
Thu 9 p.m., Sat 3 p.m., Sun 1:30 p.m.
A Real Modern Family: From Hipster to Dipster
Long draws the comedic out of serious situations, starting with a provocative question about having a baby and then taking us into the realities of meeting that child’s special needs. Through a series of vignettes, Long paints seemingly ordinary situations with a rainbow of sensory and emotional hues. He makes us answer for our choices and actions, and sends us home with a more caring heart. Opening night jitters will surely be refined for a tighter, smoother presentation. (Rita Kohn)
Wed 6 p.m., Sat 10:30 p.m., Sun 4:30 p.m.
Dracula: The Panto
EclecticPond Theatre Company
If you’re into kicking back with a kitchy, campy parody, you’ll love the broad physicality and bounding energy of this show, even if you can’t hear a word coming out of the soft-spoken females or catch the lyrics of musical numbers. Playwright siblings Thomas Cardwell and Lucy Cardwell brazenly dissect The Count’s attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, using the novel’s main characters and inserting a pair of blundering sidekicks. Fun, but it needs to be trimmed to the requisite 60 minutes, and performers will have to adjust to the space to make themselves heard. (Rita Kohn)
Wed 7:30 p.m., Sat 1:30 p.m., Sun 9 p.m.
The fast-paced, fast-talking Watson mixes up magic with comedy for a family-friendly show that includes juggling, unicycle riding, personal history and audience participation. Wearing a Charlie Chaplin-esque too-small jacket, he appears to bungle his act, but proves his prowess over the course of the show, aided by clever lighting to distract viewers from looking too closely. Watson's cleverly funny routine ran to 75 minutes at his Aug. 18 opening, which made getting to the next show a bit tricky. (Rita Kohn)
Wed 9 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 3 p.m.
Illusionistory: The History of Mystery
Taylor Martin’s Indy Magic Monthly
Taylor Martin moves from telling how Stone Agers originated the cup and ball trick to material involving a QR code in a wide-ranging show. The low-key, slow-paced Martin as Madame Esmerelda Fallendo introduces three emerging illusion artists as part of the on-going show. Bill Cook, the recently-passed medical products magnate who helped fund the renovation of the Indiana Landmarks Center (of which the Cook Theater is a part), also pays a tongue-in-cheek visit. (Rita Kohn)
Fri 6 p.m., Sat 4:30 p.m., Sun 7:30 p.m.
Cinderella: A Far-Fetched Fairy Tale Opera
The Steele Project
When three opera singers gather to choose which version of Cinderella to put on stage, they end up deciding to “do it their way,” creating a mashup of snippets from Disney to Rossini. Propelled by two fairy godfathers, Cinderella alternately despairs and takes charge; the love-smitten Prince, no matter what version, always defies believability. A bit thin in content, it’s fun to watch. (Rita Kohn)
Thu 6 p.m., Fri 10:30 p.m., Sun 6 p.m.
John Phillips and Lori Ecker beautifully deliver Stephen Temperley’s poignant, funny play directly into our hearts. Souvenir is about the honest relationship between a deluded diva and her musically accomplished accompanist. Phillips's well-rendered body language covers the gamut from “I can’t believe her audacity” to “I have to respect that level of audacity.” Ecker tosses off-key, off-tempo arias with serious abandon, making us realize what she hears is in her head, not in our ears. (Rita Kohn)
Fri 9 p.m., Sat 6 p.m.
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