IndyFringe reviews 

NUVO reviewers are out seeing every single Fringe show

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The Best of Indy Magic Monthly

Magic Taylor’d For You!
4 stars
Bear in mind that the line up for each performance of The Best of Indy Magic Monthly is different (so is this review moot?), in addition to having a different host each time (wink). Sunday’s performance started with a rather slow routine, but the following acts were far more energetic, and occasionally, death-defying. I was particularly pleased to see my friend The Amazing Barry on the roster—his razor routine always thrills and delights. Happily, Barry will be featured in more performances. Keep an eye out for Craig Stone’s appearance, too; his deft hands could fool the very sharpest of observers. -Tristan Ross
August 21 10:30pm, August 22 1:30pm, August 23 7:30pm

"Tipped & Tipsy"
Jill Vice
4 stars

Watching this show one can’t help but feel braced for the mandatory moment of mutual triumph over addiction. Happily, that is easily overcome by booby jokes. Jill Vice has created an amusing and very lively archetypal bar, sprinkling in familiar personas and occasional absurdist humor. Her physical comedy is also both a reflection of disciplined training and silly fun. The initial distancing gags do eventually fade away, which is too bad, because they’re awfully enjoyable devices which would have been a welcome bookend to the finale, but Vice’s ending is still highly satisfactory (featuring what I hope is a delightful homage to Popeye). -Tristan Ross
Saturday, August 15, 2015 - 6:00pm Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - 6:00pm Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 9:00pm Friday, August 21, 2015 - 7:30pm Sunday, August 23, 2015 - 4:30pm 

The 5 star IndyFringe shows

“Auditioning for Swan Lake”
Lou Ann Homan
4 stars

“You’re never too old to live your dreams,” is how my mother described this delightful hour of storytelling. I recommend taking your mom to this show like I did. Lou Ann Homan opens with a stirring fairytale. I saw its end coming, but my mom hadn’t and audibly gasped with wonder. The Angola, Indiana resident reminded me of actress Jane Adams or an eccentric aunt who can really captivate a dinner audience, if your aunt can rock a pink tutu. My mom thought the show was a little “draggy” at times. I would have preferred if she left the house lights off. Otherwise, Homan is a master of gesticulation and inflection and really made us believe that dance may not be able to save a life, but can certainly save a soul. -Shannon Samson
August 21 9pm, August 22, 6pm,  August 231:30pm

“My Sister Diane: A Story of Hope, Humor and Hospice”
Jim May
2.5 stars

Jim May looks like a cross between comedian George Carlin and actor David Morse and laments his large behind, a tidbit you extract from his hour of storytelling. Catholics will enjoy some bits about his catechism days, particularly a laugh-out-loud moment about bursts of prayer. I felt he took too long to get to the heart of his show, the tragic loss of a beloved sister. There’s proof he did some rambling, in that he did go over his allotted time. May did, however, nail the surreal hopelessness of the hospice experience. Anyone who knows that kind of pain will take away a few pearls.  -Shannon Samson
August 21 6pm, August 22 9pm

“The Sibling Staircase”
Sally Perkins
4 stars

Sally Perkins is sinewy and slight, but her personality is layered and large. Her hour of storytelling is a nice mix of fact and fiction. I zoned out just a little during the mythical parts, but really enjoyed the recollections of her youth, growing up the youngest of three sisters. I hope those sisters, Judy and Nancy, have a chance to see the show, to relish this masterful account of their little sister’s reverence for them, how they shaped her as a person. I laughed a lot when Perkins recounted in vivid detail and engaging expression her efforts to win a college scholarship. If you’ve ever tried to be fancy but fumbled, you will cheerfully empathize.  -Shannon Samson
August 2110:30pm, August 22 7:30pm

Top Shelf… Our Last American Tour Again
Betty Rage
2 Stars

Top Shelf are two sassy “British” women who banter onstage and perform a cappella songs (sort of Flight of the Conchords­-style) about sex, sex and, well, sex. It’s really difficult to write a funny song. Probably one percent of all comedy songs are actually funny (and I’m probably being generous here). And Top Shelf’s tunes lean heavily on the use of “sex words” as a shock-value crutch. You can make your little brother giggle or your grandparents gasp by saying “penis” and “pussy,” but it just doesn’t work as the basis of a stage show. The bad British accents are funny, though. -Sean Kissane
Friday 10:30 p.m. Saturday, 9 p.m. Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

Acting My Age
Matt Holt
3 Stars

Matt Holt offers solid club stand-up comedy in his one-man show. He covers career, relationships and awkward sexual encounters, to name a few – nothing incredibly ground-breaking, as stand-up topics go. But Holt puts his own spin on familiar subjects, and his material has a wide appeal. His shorter set-up jokes get bigger laughs, but the stories are pretty strong. Holt is extremely likeable and comfortable onstage – and his crowd work shows that he’s a pro at this. He’s the kind of guy you want telling you stories at a bar while you get drunk. -Sean Kissane
Wednesday, 9 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Laughing Sober
Rick Garrett
2.5 Stars

Comedian Rick Garrett offers up his life story in this show about neglect, abuse, addiction and recovery. He covers the factors leading up to his alcoholism and how he subsequently overcame them – and sprinkles plenty of dad jokes throughout (which I found hilarious). Garrett’s story is heartfelt but often loses its focus. It’s hard to tell such a big story in such a limited amount of time, and important parts felt rushed-through for the sake of answering audience questions at the end. He should focus completely on the story because it’s way more interesting and illuminating than the Q and A session. -Sean Kissane
Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m.

Working Titles
Jeremy Shaefer
3 Stars

Jeremy Shaefer dreams of making his living as a performing artist. But he has to make ends meet somehow, and being a performer has given him many interesting – and weird, and creepy, and degrading – opportunities to earn the cash he needs to support his dream. His one-man show, which recounts his day-job career – jobs ranging from diversity coach to elf impersonator – loses its focus once or twice along the way. But Shaefer is always clever, and his style and delivery carry you through the awkward parts to an overall worthwhile experience that will resonate with anyone who has ever been a struggling artist. -Sean Kissane
Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

Orange is the New Black Keys
ComedySportz Indianapolis
2.5 Stars

The ComedySportz Indianapolis team performs “an improvised prison musical” parodying the popular Netflix series. You are a part of the show as you scribble one-liners onto pieces of paper and drop them into a bucket for the performers to use onstage. Full disclosure: I just don’t find improv funny. But I can appreciate the enjoyment the audience gets from the spontaneous and participatory nature of it. It’s like a huge party game. If you participate, you are almost guaranteed to have fun. And it’s interesting to find out what the performers will do with audience members’ awful ideas. -Sean Kissane
Thursday 9 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m.

Ghost Story
Peter-John Byrnes
4 Stars

Peter-John Byrnes’ story of love, loss and technology is, in a word, haunting. That’s a stupid pun, but I’m using it because it’s true (and likely a reason for his picking that title). Byrnes is an extremely talented storyteller. His story jumps from the present to the past, to the more distant past, and back, but it holds onto its central narrative. You never get lost (unlike Byrnes himself in the story). There’s a lot of heavy, heart-wrenching stuff, but Byrnes is able to insert comedy that keeps things light-hearted but never feels like it’s being mocking or dismissive. “Not all ghosts are scary,” he says. But they’ll haunt you all the same. -Sean Kissane
Wednesday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m.

Growing Up All Over Myself
Mat Alano-Martin
3.5 Stars

Mat Alano-Martin isn’t necessarily afraid of aging, but he does have some concerns. The Fringe veteran is back with a stand-up show that’s all about getting older, with observations and stories from his day-to-day life. From social media stalking, to going through a second puberty, to abandoning his ideals for good produce, Alano-Martin’s material is inventive, and it’s enhanced by his amiable, somewhat awkward, self-aware delivery. When a joke doesn’t land, he lets the audience know he knows, and he understands. If you’re looking for really good, straight-up stand-up, make this show a priority. Mat Alano-Martin will make you laugh. -Sean Kissane
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

Hell’s 4th Ring [The Mall Musical]
Kait Burch, Taylor Cox, David Molloy, Logan Moore, Heather R. Owens, Davey Pelsue and Adam Tran; Casey Ross Productions, Indianapolis
4 stars
The cast perfectly captures the inanity of the mall experience in this play by Casey Ross and Davey Pelsue. Characters include a goth guy who works at a store not unlike Hot Topic, a summer employee who hasn’t yet been indoctrinated into the corporate culture, and the food sample peddler who mindlessly repeats “bourbon … chicken.” But there’s a dark twist as the staff joins together—in song—to escape eternal termination for breaking the rules. One thing that would have made it better: setting it in the 1980s or 1990s, when people still regularly shopped at malls. -Rebecca Berfanger
Friday, 9 p.m.; Saturday, 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

The Invisible Man
Ashish Beesoondial; What’s in a Name?, Mauritius
3.5 stars
This one-man show starts off with a man sleeping on the street who seemingly remains optimistic about his situation: he gets to sleep under the stars and listen to the music of toads every night. However, this story isn’t only about what it’s like to be down on one’s luck, but also how any of us can feel invisible in our day-to-day lives. Jack skillfully shares a series of flashbacks of his former job, his failed marriage, and his childhood using dolls and other props, to explain why it’s important to feel a connection with other people, and not just on social media. -Rebecca Berfanger
Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 9 p.m.

Matt Anderson and Kate Homan; Eclectic Pond, Indianapolis
4.5 Stars
When the rest of the cast is running late for rehearsal and only two actors are available when the president of the theater’s board of directors ask for a read-through, even though among them they only have a page and a post-it note’s worth of lines, the show must go on. Although this scenario makes the actors sweat—literally and figuratively—they delight the audience with their crude costume changes, their banter between scenes as they desperately try to piece together a play they never read in the first place, and every time they aren’t quite on the same page. -Rebecca Berfanger
Friday, 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

The Traveling Tap Dance Super Show
Performers: Jessica Williams and Kate O’Hanlon, featuring members of Tapman Productions of Chicago, and Circle City Tap Company of Indianapolis
4 Stars
Be sure to get a front or second row seat in order to see the dancers’ feet and other floor moves in this mix of tap and modern dance set to jazz and pop music, including a five-person, 1920s-inspired number featuring tap—and the Charleston—set to a Great Gatsby-inspired “Crazy Right Now.” The show features a good mix of young and seasoned dancers who keep the rhythm moving from beginning to end. If you are a tap dancer or have any in your crew, bring them: they invited audience members to join in the Shim Sham on stage. -Rebecca Berfanger
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.

Girls Like That

Carmel High School Theatre, Carmel, Ind.
3 Stars
News reports about the effects of online bullying are difficult to digest; watching a play about the subject is, honestly, uncomfortable. The all-female cast aptly portrays teenagers who react viciously when they receive a naked photo of another classmate, supposedly one of their BFFs at their exclusive private school. Maybe it’s because the topic is uncomfortable, or maybe it’s because the audience isn’t supposed to like these girls, it is difficult to sit through roughly 40 minutes of slut-shaming, only broken up by seemingly random monologues of other women. Thankfully, it all ties together, and the confrontation scene is worth the wait. -Rebecca Berfanger
August 20 9 p.m., August 23 3 p.m.

Cabaret of Puppetry
Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio, Indianapolis
3 Stars (if you can see it)
Fortunately, this decades-old puppet studio has a show at IndyFringe for the first time this year. Unfortunately, the venue’s set up makes it difficult for audience members to see some of the floor-level puppets from beyond the third row. Which is a shame, because these puppeteers skillfully maneuver puppets of all shapes and sizes to pre-recorded music and poetry, including a two-person Japanese puppet called Bunraku; traditional marionettes; a saucy worm that pops out of an apple; and Black Light Theatre, which is popular in Prague. Shows before 6 p.m. are family-friendly; shows after 6 p.m. are slightly more risqué. -Rebecca Berfanger
August 19 6 p.m., August 22 4:30 p.m., August 23 4:30 p.m.

The Wizer of Odd

Gift of Gab Productions, Indianapolis
4 Stars
Characters in this play correspond with those in the classic L. Frank Baum story: Camille is dressed similar to Judy Garland’s Dorothy, down to her ruby-colored high heels; her grandmother who raised her wears white, like one might imagine a good witch to dress; her mom who abandoned her wears green and frequents a club called the Flying Monkey. Unlike the classic film, instead of breaking out into songs, the main characters do their monologues spoken-word style, and don’t hold anything back in their words or their presentations. After poignant and painful life lessons, of course Camille realizes “there’s no place like home.” -Rebecca Berfanger
August 19 7:30 p.m., August 22 1:30 p.m., August 23 6 p.m.

Road Stories
Stewart Huff
4 Stars
Stewart Huff enjoys being a progressive comic who performs in mostly redneck bars. He feeds off the tension he creates between himself and the audience he inevitably pisses off. “You might as well hate me from the very first second,” he says. For his Fringe show, Huff hilariously reflects on times throughout his career when this clashing of ideals got him into trouble, even threatened his life. He discusses the dangers of being a “free thinker.” His intelligence, energy and southern charm immediately win over the Fringe audience. The first Road Stories sold out, so get your tickets in advance. You’ll be glad you did.
Sunday, 1:30 p.m.; Monday, 6 p.m.; Friday, 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.

An Indian Comedian: How Not To Fit In
Krish Mohan, Pittsburgh
4.5 Stars
This comedian describes his life, including when his family immigrated to America from India when he was 8 years old. And, no, he didn’t come to the U.S. via Ellis Island or on a magical sea creature with many legs. He has an honest, funny approach to describe how his expectations of moving to America didn’t line up with reality; how he has handled racism (“I could be Italian, Middle Eastern, or a Die Hard villain”); his relationship with his parents who raised him to be a devout Hindu, yet he is no longer faithful; and even sex education. -Rebecca Berfanger
August 19 9 p.m., August 20 6 p.m., August 21 7:30 p.m., August 23 7:30 p.m.

The Shout
In the Mix, Evansville, IN
3.5 stars
Two protestors set up camp outside the home of a cop being investigated for a shooting in order to keep attention on the case. Focusing on the relationship between the protestors and Officer Trimble (“I prefer police officer”), who’s enforcing the noise ordinance, the play explores where our responsibilities lie as we balance our own beliefs, righting the wrongs in our communities, and empathizing with those who are different from us. Though at times the shifts in the characters’ moods feel a bit abrupt, Mark Rigney’s smart dialogue simultaneously entertains while asking questions important for each of us to consider. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 21 10:30 p.m., August 23 7:30 p.m.

Drosselmeyer’s Magical Bedtime Story
NoExit Performance, Indianapolis
3.5 stars
Herr Drosselmeyer (from NoExit’s version of The Nutcracker) enlists his troupe, including his harried assistant, Sparkle, in a bedtime variety show complete with failed tricks, cabaret, costume changes, and the basics of baby care. Drosselmeyer’s oversize ego is half the fun of the show, so beware of (or embrace) the front row, as you might become one of his slightly abused volunteers. The pacing could be tighter, but the Fly Girls have got nothing on his fabulous Mosquito Ladies, or the lurid Sally Bowles–Annie Lennox mash-up character who accompanies them. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 21 6 p.m., August 22 1:30 p.m.

Cocooned in Kazan
Royal Kung Foolery, London, UK
4.5 stars
Follow dissolute Konstantin as he desperately tries to find a bride—the one requirement necessary for him to earn his family inheritance—despite his playboy reputation. All of the characters chase the one they love (who loves someone else, of course) and slapstick ensues. Deftly switching between characters, the members of Royal Kung Foolery excel at physical theatre and audience interaction in this clever and hilarious performance. This piece was inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s play Marriage, but you don’t need to be familiar with the latter to enjoy the show. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 21 9 p.m., August 22 4:30 p.m., August 23 1:30 pm

I’m Not Gay
Submatter Press, Indianapolis
3.5 stars
With the Supreme Court’s ruling for gay marriage and RFRA heating up newscasts this year, this is a timely piece. Writer Matthew Barron touches on a frustrating irony: the closeted hypocrisy of some politicians who vociferously oppose gay rights. But the play’s real angle is its large-hearted, open-minded look at the many permutations of who we love. While it momentarily trades on a couple of clichés (rebound sex is unsatisfying, the middle-aged wife has jettisoned her sex drive), overall the piece is a generous look at how limiting labels can be. Daniel Klingler’s cowboy bartender nearly steals the show. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 20 7:30 p.m., August 22 9 p.m., August 23 3 p.m.

Schedule C Productions, Anderson, IN
4 stars
Vinnie Velour makes a career change from Driver to the Stars to Professional Lounge Singer and has a rough first gig. In his second chance at the Palace Ballroom, however, there’s nothing Vinnie can’t do—spinning plates, swallowing swords, or walking a tightrope are among his many skills. He also delivers the wildest, weirdest range of songs, including crooner classics and the funniest version of Sia’s “Chandelier” I’ll ever see. In the mix is a romance with the booking manager, à la the screwball comedies of the ’40s. Vinnie’s a far stronger character than his foil, but that works, since he’s the star. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 19 7:30 p.m., August 23 3 p.m.

The Not So Secret Origin of Captain Ambivalent

Captain Ambivalent, Valparaiso, IN
3.0 stars
The Captain uses his sparkly gold accordion and some well-chosen props (including great Elton John boots) to run through his biography and career choice, in the vein of They Might Be Giants, Weird Al Yankovic, and the guys from “Flight of the Conchords.” Whether singing about his niece burying Barbie in the backyard, the five kinds of love in Ancient Greece, or Victoria’s Secret supermodel Adriana Lima as an Amish girl, he never lets up on the clever wordplay. While not every song hits, most of them do, and who can resist some kazoo and an inflatable dinosaur on the side? -Stacey Mickelbart
August 19 6 p.m., August 22 10:30 p.m., August 23 4:30 p.m.

The Yellow Wallpaper
Earlham Theatre Department, Richmond, IN
4 stars
Three women serve as one narrator in this classic short story of a woman slowly going mad under the supervision of her physician husband, who thinks she needs the classic Victorian cure: rest with virtually no activity. Stylized movement, inventive staging and costumes, and vocal distortion establish the creepy atmosphere and the narrator’s increasing agitation as she begins to see women trapped in the riotous wallpaper. The use of a tripartite narrator also works nicely to remind us that the restrictions and pain of one woman were multiplied across many during the era, and remain with us, albeit in less extreme forms. -Stacey Mickelbart
August 20 9 p.m., August 22 6 p.m., August 23 6 p.m.

Up Yours, Indianapolis
The Fleece Academy, Indianapolis
2.5 stars
TFA creates a new show for every session at the Fringe using audience suggestion and puppets. When I saw them, the group’s members struggled to piece together vignettes around the difficult topic of “tire kicker.” Improvised shows can be patchy, so I’d like to think they’d fare better with different subject matter. But working with what you’ve got is pretty much the gig in improv. The group did manage to pull out some funny riffs on “Breaking Bad” and a family on vacation that can’t properly count its ever-expanding members, prompting one son to point out, “That home school thing isn’t working out so well.” -Stacey Mickelbart
August 19 9 p.m., August 20 6 p.m.August 21 7:30 p.m., August 23 7:30 p.m.

Kill the Column
Mama Productions
3 stars
This show doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, warping from work-a-day comedy to supernatural dilemma. The structure is a bit clunky, too, as is evident by its long, expository phone call and shoe horned story exchange. Also, it’s a bit difficult to justify a Vietnam veteran having a sixteen year old son when the play is set in 2007. Furthermore, the main conflict is really quite belabored (the notion that the central character is an amusing curmudgeon is stretched to where he essentially doesn’t care whether his child lives or dies). Still, there were a few laughs here and there, and the opening premise has potential. -Tristan Ross
August 21 6:00pm, August 22 9:00pm

Jason Adams is a God Damn Mind Reader
The Power Couple
4.5 stars
I found myself chuckling just writing the title of this show. Jason Adams is an admired friend, and if you see his show, you’ll agree that he is a balls-out joyous individual. There is no fourth wall for his performances, and he will personally greet you with a hearty high five. What he does is the quintessence of “Fringe”; while some shows are edgy, offensive, or weird, what Adams does is damn near indescribable: he mixes some magic, some story-telling, and some danger to create a show you won’t find in any other theater. For Pete’s sake, I watched him bring a woman back to life through the sheer force of Bob Seger! -Tristan Ross
August 19 7:30pm, August 22 7:30pm, August 23 6:00pm

Tonya Jone Miller
3 stars
The story of an American woman living in Vietnam throughout one of the country’s most troubled periods (1962-1979) certainly lends itself to live theatre. Based on the experiences of Tonya Jone Miller’s mother, Threads takes us on a journey that explores relationships, adoptions in a foreign land, and the traumatic reality of going into labor while seemingly stranded in Vietnam. As is sometimes the storyteller’s curse, however, Miller spends a little too much time telling the story as opposed to showing it. More scenes on par with her labor routine and fewer moments of spoon-feeding would have resulted in one of the Fringe's more memorable one-person shows. -Laurence Brown
August 20 6pm, August 22 4:30pm, August 23 3pm

Whisper into My Good Ear

Vintage Players
5 stars
This delightful two-hander featuring Pat O’Brien (not to be missed in Underneath the Lintel) and Larry Ripp takes place on a park bench in New York City in 1962 as the two discuss life, relationships, and belonging. The result is likely what we’d see if Harold Pinter had written a Laurel and Hardy sketch—a happy medium between Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story and a scene or two from John Cariani’s Almost, Maine. The chemistry between O’Brien and Ripp is as impeccable as their characterization, while the show’s pacing hits every beat as the action unfolds toward a moving climax. Simple theatre at its finest. -Laurence Brown
August 22 10:30pm, August 23 6pm

Mr. Boniface, the Wise
KT Peterson
3.5 stars
Inga (portrayed by Indianapolis theatre stalwart Amy Hayes) is determined to prevent her daughter Angora (Frankie Bolda) from being expelled—to the extent that she is willing to seduce Angora’s science teacher (Benjamin Schuetz), who may or may not be in love with Angora. The humor arrives frequently when these plot details are enhanced by Inga’s narcolepsy and her youngest daughter’s (played very well by Elsie McNulty) fixation with Mr. Boniface. Peterson’s script is sharp, and the comedic delivery—for the most part—right on the money. The occasional line flub may suggest a slightly under-rehearsed show, but such minor creases are often ironed out after the first couple of runs.  -Laurence Brown
August 19 7:30pm, August 2110:30pm, August 22 7:30pm.

Not My Baby

Dreadmelon Productions
1.5 stars
The story of a potentially innocent black man on death row is a timely one—especially in light of recent news events. Indeed, the premise—that central character Kiamu Rutherford refuses to die at the lever of his oppressors—should itself make for an arresting piece of theatre. Sadly, however, the production is beset by cluttered staging, multiple distractions both on and off stage, and occasional enunciation issues. The power of the show’s message is all too often diminished by the presence of a needlessly large cast, constant shuffling in the wings, and an inexplicably comedic grandmother, whose register is so high and delivery so manic that her lines frequently become unintelligible. -Laurence Brown
August 20 9pm, August 21 7:30pm, August 22 6pm

Scientist Turned Comedian
Tim Lee
4 stars
Tim Lee returns to IndyFringe with an updated version of his popular PowerPoint-meets-comedy formula. Since we last saw him, Lee has tied the knot and welcomed a baby into the world—personal milestones that form the basis for many of the performer’s observational gags throughout. The TED Talk-esque setup plays into Lee’s strengths and the intellectual humor will resonate even with the scientifically illiterate. This is precisely because his punchlines—funny and intelligent—employ one element sometimes overlooked in the niche comedy world: accessible language. -Laurence Brown
August 22 1:30pm; August 23 4:30pm

Underneath The Lintel
Pat O’Brien
5 stars
This one-man show opens with the show’s sole character, the librarian, on stage revealing a suitcase containing what he refers to as his “scraps.” One of these is an old travel guide anonymously returned to the library after being checked out 113 years ago—setting up an edge-of-your-seat story in which we slowly discover the deliverer’s identity. The show, performed to near perfection by the wonderfully erudite Pat O’Brien, is the kind of Fringe show that unquestionably justifies its inevitable standing ovation. In a series of philosophical moments, the librarian repeats the phrase “I was here.” I am honored to say, “so was I.”  -Laurence Brown
August 22 9pm, August 231:30pm

Home Grown Original

Band O’ Leers
4 stars
If you’re looking for a good old live set featuring folk music, rock ‘n’ roll, and an ensemble of expert musicians, look no further than Home Grown Original. Led by singer-songwriter Alex Murphy, the band treats the audience to a toe-tapping set that harkens back to the sounds of the 50s and 60s. Accomplished singers Murphy, Lori Ecker, and Tim Spradlin are supported seamlessly (with the exception of one errant drumstick) by the drummer, electric guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, and two backup singers. The group has as much fun on stage as the audience does off it, even during what was perhaps their saddest and best track of the night: ‘Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Major Tears.’ -Laurence Brown
August 20 7:30pm, August 21 6pm; August 23 7:30pm

Who Run The World: A Madwomen’s Cabaret

Main Street Artists
2.5 stars
I truly wanted to rate this show more highly, not least because its performer, Julie Lyn Barber, is clearly a highly gifted artist. Indeed, her portrayal of various influential female leaders from history—including Cleopatra, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, and Hillary herself—displays an extraordinary accent range, as well as obvious singing prowess. The main problem, though, lies in one particularly ill-advised technical choice: a front-facing strobe light that flashes and swirls between each and every costume change straight into the eyes of the audience. When you consider that there are 14 costume changes in all, the impact of this lighting element cannot be understated. Many in the audience—to their credit—found that a program pamphlet works rather well as a visor. -Laurence Brown
August 19 6pm; August 21 9pm; August 22 3pm

Farewell Tour Productions
I’ve been a fan of Kurt Fitzpatrick for some time now (how can I not when the guy includes me in a song at the climax of his show?). His comedy is some of the most original stuff you will ever encounter—imagine the brilliant stupidity of classic David Letterman and you’ll come close to Fitzpatrick’s level of silly genius. This time around he has Fringe peer Reverend Nuge to join him in the challenging role of straight man. Nuge’s counterpoint helps ground Bromance’s story of life on the Fringe circuit to help illustrate the daunting consequences for these contemporary troubadours. -Tristan Ross
August 20 7:30pm, August 22 4:30pm, August 23 1:30pm

4.48 Psychosis

Savage at Last
Sarah Kane’s opaque script is not easy stuff, and though mortally genuine, it comes across as a bit too erudite for its own good. What doesn’t help in this production is the choice to allow only central player Ann Marie Elliot to express a full range of emotion. She is a fine actor, and so are the two other members of the cast; unfortunately, these two are shackled to one dimensional deliveries. Perhaps the most problematic elements of the show were basic errors in technique. There were poor sight-lines, inaudible deliveries, inadequate lighting choices, and some really cramped blocking. -Tristan Ross
 August 19 9 pm, August 22 3 pm; August 23 3 pm

The Breakneck Hamlet
Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
4 stars

Hamlet is probably Shakespeare’s longest play, and it also has one of the bard’s most frustrating main characters, a man absolutely incapable of doing the right thing at the right time. And time is of the essence in Timothy Mooney’s hour-long, one-man-strong adaptation of Hamlet. At the speed of sound, he seamlessly summarizes important plot points (“Act II is mostly about acting and spying!” he says). He also performs selected scenes—including the infamous “To be or not to be” soliloquy—with gusto. And then there’s his incisive and ironic commentary. (At one point he declares Hamlet “a swift man of action.”) Oh, and Mooney actually did all this in just under an hour, clocking in at 59 min. and 43 seconds. -Dan Grossman
August 20 6:00 p.m., August 22 9:00 p.m., August 23 3:00 p.m.

Clifton Performance Theatre - Cincinnati, OH
4.5 stars

With echoes of the Jerry Sandusky trial in Pennsylvania, this powerful one-woman performance by Christine Dye provides insight as to why a woman married to a man accused of child sex abuse would stay faithful to the end. The more Sarge tries to rationalize her husband’s behavior to others and in her own mind, the more she implicates him. Dye plays this role so convincingly, that it’s hard not to feel sympathy for this character. And you may still feel sympathetic even if you suspect that she had always known – somewhere in the back of her mind – what was going on all along. -Dan Grossman
August 19 7:30 p.m., August 22 4:30 p.m., August 23 6:00 p.m.

Blair Godshall 
2 stars

This one woman show is an autobiographical recounting time spent working shit jobs, accomplished with some theatrical flair. Like most aspiring actors, Godshall has found herself having to pay the bills in work unrelated to theatre—from working for Applebee’s to selling Mary Kay cosmetics and beyond. In the recounting, bitterness often overtakes humor. (“Kohl’s: Expect great things? Fuck you, Kohl’s,” she says.) And without much in the way of lessons learned – other than learning how shitty shit jobs can be – this odyssey through the lower rungs of the service economy quickly becomes monotonous. -Dan Grossman
August 20 7:30 p.m., August 22 10:30 p.m.

My Wildlife
Silly Safaris
4 stars
This is a show for all ages, but fear not, it’s not just for kids. Host Coyote Chris is likable and a natural performer, but which is more, he truly loves what he does. His stories are funny and engaging—I’d describe them as “relatable”, too, if it weren’t for the all the snake bites. That’s right, his show features more critters than owls, many of which were of the widdle fwuffy variety; the woman beside me was practically swooning from all the cute. Of course, there was also scaly fun to be had: Coyote Chris can play an alligator like a fiddle.
August 20 6 pm, August 22 10:30pm

Interrupting the Sermon
First Hand Theatrical 
4 stars

This play is created and directed by Kevin Olson, based on stories and poems written by his late father Dr. Wayne C. Olson. It’s a trip beyond the literal word of scripture into the messy notes that the elder Olson wrote in the margins, as it were, based on fifty years' experience of a pastor and campus minister. We learn of the various progressive causes that Olson embraced as a pastor and the price he paid when his conservative congregations balked. The idea to use three different actors to tell these stories was a brilliant one. And Perry Hunt, a recent graduate from Butler's Theater department, is a particularly captivating presence. -Dan Grossman
August 19 6:00 p.m., August 20 9:00 p.m., August 21 7:30 p.m., August 23 1:30 p.m.

The Eulogy
Michael Burgos
5 stars

You don't want a eulogy the likes of "The Eulogy" performed at your funeral, or anyone you know. But if you like wildly offbeat humor served with a side dish of obscenity, do not miss this one man show. The dude giving the eulogy is often channeling Antonio Banderas—and trying to seduce the widow of the deceased Thomas. The dude delivering the eulogy is Michael Burgos, a graduate of the internationally renowned École Philippe Gaulier. And it’s not hyperbole to label him a comic genius: not only is Burgos insanely funny, but he has a knack for switching from one character impression to another as adroitly as Mario Andretti switches gears during the Indy 500. Channeling George W. Bush, he comments on the inevitability of the deceased's death, saying "one plus one equals dead." And this is before he torches Thomas's casket with gasoline. Oh, yeah. And then he roasts a marshmallow on the embers of the burning corpse. And he's good enough to let us know how Thomas died, about how eating a dozen fried eggs every morning for breakfast was a factor. "I'm not saying that he caused his own death, but eggs don't fry themselves," he eulogized, this time channeling prosperity gospel televangelist Creflo Dollar of all people. -Dan Grossman
August 21 10:30 p.m., August 22 6:00 p.m.

Camp Summer Camp
Defiance Comedy - Indianapolis, IN
3 stars

This campy Canadian camp features incestuous camp owners and horny counselors, among them the counselor Valerie who is so enamored with Jesus that she wants her suitor named Champ Handsome to sign an abstinence pledge for her (and Him). While other belly-laugh-inducing shenanigans abound, the anglings of three fellow counselors trying to get in her pants pretty much make up the central drama of this play. Valerie’s rendition of "Abstinence is Sexy" to an ‘80s synth beat is hilarious. But an apparent infanticide in effigy is not so funny even in the context of these broad, over-the-top characterizations and brings to mind something the late novelist David Foster Wallace once said to Terry Gross on the NPR Program Fresh Air; “Irony can become tiresome, even tyrannical.” -Dan Grossman
August 21 9:00 p.m.; August 22 7:30 p.m.

Dancing in the Mist
RibbitRepublic - Jersey City, NJ
4 stars

A son caring for his mother who has dementia. This, at first glance, doesn’t seem like the most exciting premise for a Fringe performance. But the forgetfulness and confusion of dementia give the son character Mike an opportunity to impersonate his own father in front of his mother when she gets it in her head that she is about to be married. And we get to follow along on Mike’s Kübler-Rossesque journey from anger - relating to the sacrifices he had to make as an adult caregiver - to acceptance. The performances are excellent. And the difficult subject is leavened with humor, singing, and dancing. -Dan Grossman
August 19 9:00 p.m., August 22 3:00 p.m., August 23 4:30 p.m.


AV Productions - Wooster, OH
4 stars

The first two mini-plays in this whirlwind Fringe offering are open-ended meditations on life and spirituality (as well as house-squatting). The final two are equally thought-provoking but more hysterically funny and end on some great punchlines. All feature compelling acting and dialogue, but he third play “The Girlfriends,” written by Jean Childers-Arnold (an actor in this piece as well as Fringe veteran), is a standout. The setting for this one is a small gathering where three girlfriends are gathered together. One of them is in the middle of a divorce. So how does it happen that one of them accuses another of being a “Lulu Lemon whore?” Find out before this Fringe insult/coinage gets its own #. -Dan Grossman
August 21 6 p.m., August 22 1:30 p.m., August 23 7:30 p.m.

Holy Ficus
Zach Rosing Productions
5 stars
Zack Neiditch’s musical made sure the audience knew just how big a Fringe show can be. The story follows a young man named Rod, who falls madly in love with a ficus (yes, the tree). His house plant is hit by a car, causing him to travel through heaven and hell to find her. The show has some of the best one-liners in all of Fringe. “Satan invented Twitter,” for example. The show uses catchy songs and musical narration throughout. The production wouldn’t fill out larger stage as it’s written, but it makes the intimate Fringe stage have the big band feel of a Broadway musical. Adults only for this one. -Emily Taylor
 August 20 6 p.m., August 21 7:30 p.m., August 22 4:30 p.m.

Dance Kaleidoscope
5 stars
Many have questioned the placement of a dance troupe in the Fringe line-up. Dance Kaleidoscope has taken the opportunity to carry on the ideas of fringe into their show design. The set runs with seven dances, all choreographed by company dancers. Pieces by Jillian Godwin’s “Flashes of Life" and Justin Sears-Watson's "Speak Easy" stood out for technical innovation and sheer entertainment value. The choreography in the DK show was overall a perfect representation of what Fringe is all about, letting performers try something new. 
-Emily Taylor
August 20 9 p.m., August 23  7:30 p.m.

Fruit Flies Like a Banana
The Fourth Wall  
4 stars
Never the same show twice, the group of three musicians uses the alphabet to dictate what show you see. Audience members pick from a bag and each letter represents a song. The classical musicians well written and funny pieces of music (some of which they received from friends around the world) to make an improv show. Beats the hell out of sitting in an orchestra on their part. 
August 20 7:30pm, August 22 7:30pm, August 23  4:30pm

Ca-Ching: A Modern American Religious Drama
NoMads Art Collective
1.5 stars
The concept addresses the minimum wage and the gap between the one and 99 percent. The idea is great, but this was an utter disappointment. There was no dramatic surprise in what the characters were about to do. The blocking of certain characters felt unnecessary for the space, and not a single one developed in any kind of meaningful way. 
August 19 6 pm. August 22 3 pm

“Mom?” A Comedy of Mourners
Box of Clowns
4 stars
Clown siblings Victoria, Frank, and Mango mourn the loss of their mother as they try and scatter her ashes. The entire show takes place on a 3 by 7  black box on stage. On top of that is a chest that the three crawl in and out of what seems to be a haunting underworld. Slapstick humor and death have never made so much sense together. The show utilizes great stage presence, an intriguing story, and boisterous players. 
August 19 7:30pm,  August 22 1:30pm, August 23, 6:00pm

A Little Business at the Big TOP
David Gaines
3.5 stars
A one-man show with no props and only minimal sound effects created a near perfect visual representation of a circus love story. Each character was recognizable from the others. His use of repetition and blocking brought it home. However, the story needed a shorter time between introduction and the actual story. Overall the pacing was slightly too slow. Quick changes and timed progression are key in fringe shows. Probably your best bet with kids though. 
August 21 6 pm, August 22  6 pm, August 23 3 pm

Ulysses Grant: a Fluxkit Opera
Stephen Rush
2 stars
The play aimed to tell the story of Grant writing letters throughout the civil war. While by all technical standards it did do that, the story and multimedia use were inconsistent. The audience didn't seem very involved despite plenty of members being pulled up on stage. However, the historical research and and preparation that this play must have taken should be noted. Much of the music was from the civil war and [to a historical novice at least] the facts all seemed to be straight. Some of the background characters should have stronger singing roles; their voices filled the theater seemed unrivaled by the main players. Overall it was a failed attempt at comedy. 
August 21 9 pm,  August 22 10:30pm

Shakespeare’s Ear

Early Music in Motion
4 stars
This is Shakespeare Fringized. The story follows Shakespeare's life and writing throughout Europe. With five musicians (with period instruments) the story moves in and out of song with The Fourth Wall's C. Neil Parsons portraying Will. No set changes are needed in this innovative approach to storytelling. A few insider jokes rang true with the Shakespeare studiers in the crowd, but no previous knowledge of Macbeth is required. 
August 21 10:30pm, August 22 9:00pm,  August 23 1:30pm

The Secret Book of Jesus
Phillip Low – Maximum Verbosity
3 stars
When you think about what Phillip Low did here, you have to be impressed. He pored over more than a dozen books on the life of Jesus and streamlined them into one long, compelling narrative. At first, I thought it was fan fiction, but the Minneapolis resident explained that he invented nothing, but can’t vouch for the original authors whom he calls “curious and imaginative,” as well as some “opportunists.” Low is a very commanding storyteller. Although he says this show is for everyone, I think you would enjoy it more if you’re religious or love history. In any case, you will take away some insider info such as what some say happened to Jesus’s foreskin after circumcision. -Shannon Samson
August 19 9pm, August 20 6pm, August 21 7:30pm, August 23 7:30pm

The Comedy Magic of Oscar Muñoz
Oscar Muñoz
5 stars 
This is everything you want in a Fringe show. Oscar Muñoz knows how to work an audience. He’s big and bold and hilarious. And, oh yeah, he does magic. It’s the standard fare of tricks with ropes, cards, rings, balls, birds, bunnies and balloon animals, but there is nothing pedestrian about the way they’re delivered. This Texan is a natural comedian, completely in tune with his audience. I heard a breathy “Whaaat?” from a bewildered woman and watched children absolutely squeal with delight. Like, they were about to lose their minds, they were so mesmerized. That alone is worth the price of admission. Take the kids. Just take them already. -Shannon Samson
August 20, 7:30pm, August 22 4:30pm, August 23, 3pm

Hannibal: “Liar!”
Chris Hannibal
4 stars
There is less pageantry surrounding this magic show, as in, you’re not going to see yards of flowy scarves come out of Hannibal’s pocket or some kind of critter materialize from his palm. It’s just one man and mostly a deck of cards, but what he can do with them is kind of brilliant. And by “kind of,” I mean devastatingly so. Hannibal pulled off card tricks that remain inconceivable to me. The veteran magician from North Carolina pulls in his audience right from the start and uses storytelling and a touch of adult humor that kept us riveted. He’s always in command and at ease, while you’re wondering to yourself or in the case of one young person very loudly and emphatically to everyone, “How did you do that?” -Shannon Samson
August 20 9pm, August 22 3pm

Men’s Room
Mayday Productions
4 stars
Full disclosure: I have done improv with Daniel Martin before and gushed at his past performance in “Superior Donuts” at TOTS. Also, I had only seen storytelling and magic shows up until this point, so perhaps I was overeager for a scripted ensemble comedy. In any case, I loved this show and so did everyone else on this sold-out opening night. Martin is one of the most gifted comedic actors in this city and every time he left the stage, I couldn’t wait for him to return. You’re going to have to suspend some disbelief that all of these shenanigans would actually happen in a corporate men’s room and there’s a lot of potty humor, complete with a fart track and even one improvised authentic one, thanks to the very funny Brian Boyd. This outrageous show delivers and will no doubt be a hit this Fringe. Kudos to Indy financier-by-day playwright Marcus May. Keep writing. -Shannon Samson
August 19 6pm, August 22 10:30pm, August 23 4:30pm

The Adventures of Les Kurkendaal
Les Kurkendaal
3 stars
Les Kurkendaal can fill up a room. He’s only 5’4”, but his personality is that of a giant and he’s not afraid to take you into the dark places in his brain where a raging green-eyed monster lives to make him feel inferior to his conventionally more successful partner on their way to a class reunion. Black, gay and tirelessly witty make for a hilarious combination in a room full of stuffy, straight white people all trying to impress each other. It made me realize how coming out of the closet isn’t a singular event, but a life-long process for the LGBT community and how unenviably exhausting that must be. Kurkendaal shows you how humor can be your guide in any situation and whatever your life circumstance, you’re likely better off than you think. -Shannon Samson
August 19 7:30pm, August 22 1:30pm, August 23 6pm

Is That Your Reel Hair
Tiffanie Bridges
2.5 stars
Tiffanie Bridges is quite exuberant and well known for her vocal talents, but Is That Your Reel Hair just comes across as a vanity project. The story of her childhood follicular disaster serves as a very loose device to let Bridges play dress up. A simple musical review would be far more palatable, setting aside the potential for a separate play focusing on the story of her hair. -Tristan Ross
*Note: This is a review of a previous version of this show. Our reviewer was unable to attend the Fringe show because he was unable to use his media pass. Please take this into consideration before making up your mind on whether or not to attend this show. 
August 21 9 pm,  August 22 6 pm

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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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