Review: 2010 Fringe Festival, Part One

The IndyFringe Theatre Festival in Indianapolis downtown on Mass Ave is going on now. With 48 shows from Indianapolis performing arts groups as well as companies from across the nation and around the globe, the IndyFringe is stronger than ever. In my first weekend of attendance, I caught ten great shows at six different Indianapolis performing arts venues. Grab a schedule and start fringing for yourself. Backer buttons are $5.00 and required for attendance to all shows, while tickets are only $10.00 per performance.

Boy in the Basement

Wisdom Tooth Theatre presents an homage to the romance novel genre in a funny and foul spoof of steamy literature. Over the top in every way, this show is acutely aware of what is accomplishes, which is a raucous journey through one novelist’s sex slave fantasy. With a keen yet predictable sense of comedy, playwright Katherine Heller creates larger than life characters that fit neatly into their stereotypes: the virgin, the sexpot, the hippie, the dominatrix and the sex slave. As the story unravels, Heller’s script with direction from Callie Burk digs for both humor and sentimentality. With nearly constant commentary in acting, directing and writing choices, the show’s send up of the romance genre manages a balancing act between outrageously lusty comedy and believable plot devices that create an interesting story to follow.

Not a Peep

ShadowApe takes over Theatre on the Square’s main stage with their Charlie Chaplain inspired commentary on American society. The show’s opening offers a rhythmic expression of the monotonous life of office workers. Repetitive beats created entirely from office supplies begins to make one questions (as in real life): “How long can this go on?” Yet, as Constance Macy, Ben Tebbe and Jennifer Koharchik build on their silent relationships, it isn’t long before all hell breaks loose in this farcical world. With a central focus on one co-workers ritualistic devouring of sugar coated peeps throughout the day, the trio builds to a hilarious climax in the riveting “First Act” of their show.

Yet as the company continues into second and third “acts”, the magic of their technique begins to fade. Though the show’s transition into the actor’s inner monologues as they cope with a consumer driven society remained entertaining, the company’s divulgence into their social agenda felt brow beaten. While their message was solid and important, and their execution flawless, its amazing that a show where no one speaks could be so preachy.

They Touch in Flood

PaperStrangers Performance Group offers an experimental dance piece at Theatre on the Square’s second stage. Director Michael Burke and choreographer Tommy Lewey explore sex in four parts: courtship, coupling, copulation and consequence. Jammed into the tiny second stage of Theatre on the Square, the piece suffers from obvious spacing issues throughout. However, the content is riveting. The audience, as a sea of uncomfortable laughter leaning forward so as not to miss a word or movement, reflects Burke’s triumph to push his viewers beyond their boundaries. Lewey’s scantily clad dancers capture every nuance of sex as they throw their bodies into each other. Smokers will definitely want a cigarette after this sexually charged experience that will leave you wanting more.

Do Not Kill Me Killer Robots

Ben Eagerman’s Do Not Kill Me Killer Robots at the Phoenix Theatre takes my vote for funniest play in Fringe, so far. A show designed for and by the Internet generation, Eagerman’s humor plays on viral videos, Facebook feeds and end of world scenarios. As ridiculous as the title sounds, this one man performance piece is simply a laugh riot. Set three days in the future, Eagerman stands as the last living soul in a post-apocolyptic world. With cardboard props and a homemade megaphone, he feigns a slapdash one man show (timed to perfection) as his last ditch effort for survival. This campy piece pits kittens against sharks, explores the realities of space camp, and offers many theories on the origins of robots. Beware, Eagerman prods a rowdy audience, cast as the Killer Robots, to be even more verbal as the show progresses.

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Fringe Festival, Part One: 2010 Season

IndyFringe Theatre Festival
The IndyFringe Building
719 E St. Clair St
Indianapolis, IN46202