"The Parenting Project with The Hoosier Dads and Callie’s Tally

Phoenix Theatre

Through Nov. 26

Phoenix Theatre’s stab at decoding modern parenting presents two independent shows that examine the X’s and Y’s of parenthood from opposite sides of the gender divide.

At the Nov. 3 show, a trio of homegrown Hoosier comics, Brad Tassell, Dave Dugan and former Ringling Brother’s clown Kevin Burke, collectively The Hoosier Dads, delivered a heartfelt set of loosely-linked monologues on the importance of kindness and patience in fatherhood.

The warmth of Tassell’s show opener, which includes an explanation of how a late night trip to Walmart for condoms, candy, Vaseline and little girl’s underpants might actually mean you are a good father, was never matched by Dugan or Burke, but each of the three pieces are strong enough to stand on their own. Dugan’s set borrowed heavily from his stand-up routine, giving glancing attention to the actual act of fatherhood and a deeper peek into the ludicrous things it may cause you to do.

Burke’s closing set, however, stole the show. Graced with a voice and presence capable of commanding a much larger room, Burke pleasantly overpowered the Phoenix’s smaller, cabaret-style theater. There was no looking away; it wasn’t even an option. Performing much of his act in the oversized clown shoes he has from his Ringling days, Burke wowed the audience with a clairvoyant’s confidence scam, so skillfully executed it defies deciphering, that passed down to him by his grandmother with the condition that he never use it to rob people of their money or true memories of their loved ones as she had.

Down home values pervaded this show, provided an affirmation of who we are that blurred all political, social and ideological lines.

Kelli Walker contributes the companion piece Callie’s Tally, based on Betsy Howie’s memoir of a professional woman who clings to the only thing over which she has control — receipts — as she copes with an unexpected pregnancy. Walker initially performed the piece in February at a Phoenix fund-raiser for New Orleans’ storm ravaged Southern Repertory Theatre, where the play was in rehearsal for its world premiere before being derailed by Hurricane Katrina.

The Parenting Project will run on Thursdays-Sundays until Nov. 26. Tickets are $25 for those 25 and over and $15 for everyone else. The full schedule is available at www.phoenixtheatre.org; to purchase tickets call 317-635-PLAY.



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