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IndyFringe 14: Two Shows for the New Millenium

IndyFringe, the annual theatre festival that takes over Mass Ave every August, is in full swing. Every evening, theatre goers enjoy new shows from all genres, from comedy to drama to the not-easily-categorized. Most of the shows are rated at least PG-13, but there are a few that are family-friendly, or at least not offensive. My family’s enjoyed two very different, yet well-done shows, and we have a few more on our schedule before the festival closes Sunday evening.

Alice vs. Wonderland

The game we played in our seats during the show.

The game we played in our seats during the show.

At the preview party, the Queen of Hearts and the Rabbit were both running through the audience looking for Alice. At the Cook Theatre, the set is a video screen for Alice vs. Wonderland, and the characters are clearly 8-bit versions of the Lewis Carroll characters. During the show’s introduction, the audience was instructed to keep out their smart phones, and head to a URL. In all of my days of theater going, I’ve never been told to do that.

As the show progressed, Alice was faced with several choices, and much like a Choose Your Own Adventure story, the audience decided what she should do. Should she take the tarts? Should she play croquet? Every time a question was activated, we could select our vote on our screen. Between the characters looking somewhat Minecraft-esque, and being able to participate, both my six year old and my nine year old were engaged for the entire hour. It was definitely a new take on a classic story, and one that really spoke to the younger generation.

Alice vs. Wonderland is on stage Friday, August 22 at 10:30pm, and Saturday, August 23 at 7:30pm.

Petunia and Chicken

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we enjoyed Petunia and Chicken  Wednesday night. This two person ensemble presented an epic love story, loosely based on the writings of Willa Cather. The husband and wife duo play the title characters, Petunia (a young immigrant woman), and Chicken (a young man being raised in Nebraska0, along with everyone else in the story. Through storytelling techniques, a shawl and a scarf, they take us on a journey that starts with a family immigrating to the United States. Chicken leaves his young love to go on adventures around the world, but eventually comes home to her. When he returns, he’s disappointed in the life she ended up having. But, through a strange series of events, their love story is able to continue. Their engaging actions, sound-effects and staging kept my daughter’s attention for the entire show. After the show, she had fun sorting out the characters that each played, as well as how the actors transitioned from one character to the next. We will definitely be looking at future Animal Engine performances when they come to town.

Petunia and Chicken is on stage today, August 21, at 9pm, as well as Saturday, August 23, at 3pm.

There are four days left of this year’s IndyFringe. If you haven’t made to Mass Ave. yet, it’s time to take a couple of hours and enjoy theatre like you never have before. For complete ticket, showtime, and location information, please visit www.indyfringe.org.