Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Indianapolis Men’s Chorus: “Journey to Hell” (IndyFringe 19)

Hell yes.

Journey To HellThe IMC rock the hell out of the District Theatre with their program dedicated to the dark side. Starting off with black robes and Latin chanting sets the mood for the homage to all things scary. Their energetic choreography exhibits their incredible stamina. Sometimes the musicians override the vocalists, a pet peeve of mine, but it wasn’t enough to make this a must-see-or-die show. Just some of the songs include “Renegade,”a Journey Mega Mix, “Devil Inside,” “Hell’s Bells,” “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” “Hope It Gives You Hell,” and so many more. Don’t overlook this one!

  • Friday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 1:30 p.m.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Footlose” (IndyFringe 2019)

Take Footloose and add improv. Audience members contribute blind lines from movies and dance moves to buckets, and as the story progresses, the actors pick from the appropriate bucket. Hilarity ensues. Be creative, please. The night I went there were multiple “I don’t give a damn” and “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The cast went with it, though, no matter what they were given. If you are a fan of the movie, you won’t want to miss this.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Uindy Theatre Company: “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” (IndyFringe 19)

Twenty-four mini plays in 48 minutes. Timed. If they can’t do it, you get free pizza! On your table is a menu of play choices, and the audience gets to shout out which play they want to see next. Some are a few seconds, some are about two minutes. Some are brilliant, and each one has a comedic element. Highlights are “Poultry-geist,” “How to War,” “These Things Are True,” “Memorial Day,” “and Honesty.” Beware No. 8, Sudden Death and Resurrection.” Kudos to Katie Carter, Destiny Heugel, Morgan Jackson, and especially Clayton Rardon for having to wear a dildo on his head because of “stage direction.”

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Is Your Brain Still Cooking?” (IndyFringe 19)

Is your brain still cookingWelcome to the Nursing Home Channel, where octogenarians remember useless information in the game show Is Your Brain Still Cooking? Jim Banta as the game show host is a bit frazzled, as he just happened to land the gig as host. He’s unprepared, especially when his two contestants arrive. Edmund (Dan Flahive) is covered in Post-It notes because he can’t recall even the simplest of everyday things, but ask him about something 50 years ago and he can go into minute detail. The other contestant, Roby Flo (Case Jacobus) is well-centered in the now. But her past profession, porn star, keeps her mind otherwise occupied. This is a funny of slightly long program. All three cast members nail their characters, and the jokes go beyond just the gross and old.


Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“The Phantom of Fountain Square” (IndyFringe 2019)

Phantom in Fountain Square PRINT (1)Poor Fountain Square. The revitalization that never was. In this story, a couple, Samantha (Kerra D. Wagener) and Danny (Thom Johnson) have bought a space in The Square to open a restaurant. But the gremlins of Fountain Square strike, removing electrical components and even pooping on the counter. The only person not bothered by the ghostly presence is Katie (Jacquiline Rae), their daughter.

This is a musical without much music, and sitting on the right side of the audience, the vocals were often overpowered by the music. Similarly, a small screen showing old photos of Fountain Square is placed to the far left, making it hard for us on the right to see.

Owen Harp as the Phantom is downright goofy in his exaggerated movements, all long, sweeping arms and long strides inside a large black cloak. His monkey companion is downright disturbing.

Rae is a natural on stage, however. I hope to see her again in the future.

  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 10:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 4:30 p.m.



Posted in Indianapolis theater: interviews

Carmel High School: “And then They Came for Me” (IndyFringe 2019)

The 15th annual Indianapolis Fringe Festival continues into its second week, including the offering from Carmel High School, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank. The play combines the the stories of Anne Frank and survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss.

Maggie Cassidy, a theater teacher and director at CHS for 12 years and this show’s director, has been a part of Fringe for 14 years. “I love to direct Fringe plays because they are intimate and artistic. It isn’t about glitz and glamour; it is about true and beautiful storytelling,” she says.

“The story of the Holocaust is one that should continue to be told,” she adds. “I love to do plays based on historic events/true stories. I love to research that event, time period and its people. I thought this play was beautiful and heart wrenching. The play is a combination of two real survivors sharing their stories on video and actors recreating the events on stage.”

The actors are made up of seniors, juniors and one sophomore from CHS. “I think it is a wonderful experience for the students. They get a chance to perform for a wider audience. We cast the show at the end of the 2018–2019 school year, but have only been in rehearsal for three weeks. I think it gives them a truer experience of what professional theater is like. It gives the kids and the theater program at CHS really great exposure,” she says.

“We often do something heavy, almost always a drama, almost always something based on real events, always a small cast, and almost always something that provides a message for the audience. I think that we must often remind our young people and our audience about the events that took place under Hitler in WWII. Survivor Eva Schloss says, ‘I fear greatly that the lessons of the past will be forgotten, if only because we all tend to push aside what is unpleasant. Therefore it seems to me very important that the surviving witnesses should continue to testify.’ Survivor Ed Silverberg says, ‘It is, after all, the next generation that must keep alive the knowledge of this dark episode in human history, so that it may never be repeated.”

The show runs Aug. 16–18 and Aug. 20, 24, and 25. For tickets and more information, go to

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

aMUSEd (IndyFringe 2019)

amusedNikki’s apartment is haunted by a Muse. A very unwelcome one. He’s stuck on this plane until he fulfills his promise to his last companion: find someone to finish their last story. Nikki won’t budge because this apartment is supposed to be a haven for her to escape her own pain. An odd couple indeed.

Kyle Dorsch and Megan Ann Jacobs take the acting over the top a little, but overall they give us a sweet and funny story.

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Emerging Artist Theatre: “The Cookie Dough Show” (IndyFringe 2019)

Cookie dough show 300_0Thank you, Paige Scott, for making my night. (As opposed to the Diet Coke going up my nose in Is Your Brain Still Cooking? See seperate review.) Paige on a toy piano singing the song “Not in Nottingham” from Disney’s 1973 classic Robin Hood was one of the best experiences of my life. I know every. single. word of that song. Using the Robin Hood theme as a segue into a Kevin Costner homage, Paige also serenaded us with Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You.” Besides Paige’s musical prowess, the show is a mishmash of half laughs and some more serious scenes. A little girl wants to kill Santa. Then there is a series of awkward retail exchanges, a somber set where a daughter runs into her estranged father, and a sweet scene about a pregnant Army wife. Billed as a “variety” show, The Cookie Dough Show seemed a little too schizophrenic in its widely varied vignettes, but it has its high points. Like the plinking of tiny piano keys. tumblr_ml2dn9giLJ1rkx03vo1_400

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 18, 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 20, 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m.
  • ComedySportz
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Approxima Productions: “Vinny the Pooh” (IndyFringe 2019)

It’s Mafia Pooh!

They all had to grow up eventually, so why not make their family a Family? Sniglet and Pooh had a deal go south, and The Boss, Franga, isn’t going to be happy. Sniglet (Kelsey VanVoorst) has a filthy mouth and anger issues — and an eclectic sex drive. Of course, Christa MaBobbin (Morgan Morton) is the one who has been screwing toads. Franga (Carrie Ann Schlatter) keeps her furry puppet Little Schmoo in a golden belly pouch, which the unintelligible Jowl (Joshua C. Ramsey) seems to be into. Eyesore (Clay Mabbit) may have his tail’s ribbon tattooed to his neck, but now he’s managed to lose an eye. And Stagger (John Kern) appears with visual conformation of his bouncy goodness <sniff>. As for Vinny (Steve Kruze), he seems to be the only one who hasn’t degraded into mafia madness with his honey snacks and rumbly tummy. Not to mention those shorts and dress shoes he’s rockin’. (Speaking of, VanVoorst’s boots are awesome.)

Director Christine Kruze has quite the handful of characters (they have a violence supervisor), and the group gets its weirdness on. The cast knows it Pooh, but Jowl, Sniglet, and Stagger ham it up the most for a giggly romp through the 50 Hectare Forest.

Sunday, Aug. 18, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Ubrella” (IndyFringe 2019)

Ubrella (not a type-o) is a one-woman show about Ginger Thimlar’s observations on life and its perception. It’s almost stream of consciousness in that it jumps subjects or repeats itself. Such as, Ginger lets us know several times that she hates technology. Vehemently. The way she see it, tech has destroyed our communication skills and social interaction. She also exhibits quite a bit of bitterness having never used her vocalist/fine art/film direction degree. Then she moves on to her estranged father and her eventual malaise for Indianapolis. Where she is at any given time is nebulous. Sometimes she seems to be at work, sometimes on the bus, and sometimes no place in particular at all — just monologuing. In the background are the noises of a city, which come and go at random.

Her entire show is read straight from a script in a binder, often sitting or else shambling around the stool. There is little or no eye contact and expression. Instead, it resembles a first table read for a new play. This production is nowhere near ready for a stage.

  • Saturday, Aug. 17, 10:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 19, 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 23, 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug 25, 1:30 p.m.
  • $15 adults / $12 seniors (over 65), students (with ID), and children
  • Indianapolis Firefighters Museum


Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews

Openings for the weekend of 8/9

Monument Theatre Company: 1984

George Orwell’s classic tale as you’ve never seen it before. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch some of the most thrilling theater in Indianapolis.

  • Aug. 9-18, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
  • $15
  • Indy Convergence
  • Tickets here

Footlite Musicals: Bring It On!

Nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, this musical is about the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading meeting the fierce rivalries of high school politics and romance. Bitingly relevant, sprinkled with sass and inspired by the hit film of the same name, “Bring It On” takes audiences on a high-flying journey that is filled with the complexities of friendships, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. This Young Artists Production is performed by actors ages 13 through 18.

Save on Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Twelve Angry Men

Save $10 off the first two weeks of Twelve Angry Men using promo code TWELVE1. Offer valid on performances
Sept. 4-15 when you book by Aug. 23.
Valid on individual tickets priced $35 and higher. Other exclusions may apply.

Save on Phoenix Theatre’s Georgia McBride

Early Bird Special on Aug. 23rd! Tickets only $28 with code DRAG.

IndyFringe Fundraiser

Fringe has a fundraising challenge: a match for $7,500. IndyFringe wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for frequent Fringers and volunteers who have continued to play a major role in the festival, welcoming audiences and artists in true IndyFringe style. August marks 15 years of IndyFringe. Did you know 80 percent of the box office is returned to performers? Over the past 15 years, IndyFringe has returned over $1.6 million to festival performers and small theater companies in Indianapolis. To keep doing this, they need your support! Your tax-deductible contribution supports creative expression. A theater community that welcomes everyone. Diversity in the arts and audiences. Accessible theater for all. Giving is easy in one of several ways: online at; mail IndyFringe P.O. Box 44121 Indianapolis, IN 46244; or in person the next time you come to the theaters.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: previews, Indianapolis theater: reviews

Openings for the weekend of 8/24

As far as I can tell, it’s still all Fringe this weekend. There are new Fringe shows opening, though, so be sure to check out for details.

There are over 70 shows offered at Fringe. I only got to see 15 — I wish I had been able to see more, but every free moment I had last weekend I devoted to Fringe shows. So, of those I saw, I thought I would pick my favorites (that are still playing this weekend).

No. 1: Jollyship Whiz-Bang

“Jollyship the Whiz-Bang” at IndyFringe 2018. (Ryan Ruckman, center)

If you like weird and crass and inexplicable humor with puppets and music, this is it for you.

And the rest, in no particular order …

They Shall Take Up Serpents: a look into personal power and the subculture of snake-handling

The Pope Walks into a Bar, Father Ned!: an homage to the TV show Father Ted, but hysterical whether or not you’ve ever seen Father Ted

Queen Day: a concert by the Indianapolis Men’s chorus of hard-rockin’, high-energy awesome

Intrusion: a riveting look at rape culture through the eyes of those we don’t usually associate with it

Broadway’s Leading Ladies: a concert of three women wowing you with show tunes both old and new



Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Haunted: Tales Told and True”

Laura Packer

I love storytelling, so this show immediately made it into my list of must-sees. I’m glad it did because Loren Niemi and Laura Packer can twist a tale that makes you shiver, sigh, or even sad, and sometimes all at the same time.

Each session is different, so the stories I heard could be different from what you get. One constant is that each session includes a storytelling improv. Suggestions are taken from the crowd, and one of the tellers will spin a yarn on the spot.

Loren Niemi at Patrick’s Cabaret in 2017.

The night I attended, Loren regaled us with a story about his time in the Boy Scouts. This was not the modern Scouting we know today; his Scout days were probably 50-odd years ago. His pack master’s creed? “It’s good for boys to suffer; it makes them men.” But what started out as scary stories told in the dark during a secluded camping trip ended in a sobering experience.

Laura told a story she found when doing some research into Indianapolis. (Both are from Minnesota.) Bypassing the most well-known stories from Indy — the House of Blue Lights, Hannah House, etc. — she told a tale I had never heard about a thieving milkmaid in Crown Hill Cemetery in the 1940s. She also told us about her first-person experiences while living in two haunted houses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and recommended this show. But if you don’t make it, I highly suggest checking out Indianapolis’s own Storytelling Arts of Indiana, which has a full season of storytellers from across the nation.

Produced by Niemi and Packer Productions

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Hers Is the Head of a Wolf”

This is a confusing play.

wolfWhile mental health and sexual assault are both worthy topics of discussion, the script for Hers Is the Head of the Wolf is sketchy and unorganized, with no character development, and the audience is left wondering just what the story was about. We are given little initial information about main character Elise’s situation, and it remains that way for much too long. What has caused Elise (Raven Newbolt) to be in a state of constant fear? What does Danny (Riley Leonard) have to do with it? Why is her therapist, Dr. Hamilton (Michael Tingley), so forthcoming and accommodating? Does Elise suffer from PTSD, schizophrenia, or both? Slowly feeding the audience tiny morsels of information over time is an often-used playwright’s convention to keep us engaged, but there isn’t enough substance here to use that tactic. We are left frustrated and hungry.

The actors aren’t given much to work with. Elise and Hamilton are one-note characters, and Danny gets two: concern and anger. The conclusion is just as bewildering. One moment Danny is on the phone, and the next, he’s on the ground. When did he even get inside her home?

I’m sorry to say it, but there are too many other good shows playing at Fringe to give this one a recommendation.

Produced by Monument Theatre Company

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Two M@therf#ck*rs on a Ledge”

Two MFers on a LedgeAllyn (Ronn Johnston) is, quite literally, out on a ledge. His therapist, Mattie (Veronica Wylie), finds him there and pleads with him to come back inside, but instead, he ends up coercing her out onto that ledge with him.

Allyn has narcissistic personality disorder, which causes exaggerated feelings of self-importance. This is very closely related to hero syndrome, in which people think they are actual heroes and put themselves in dangerous situations because they believe they can survive them. As Allyn says, “Heroes don’t stay where it’s safe.” Mattie is a PhD candidate whose dissertation is on the pathology of heroism, most likely why she is Allyn’s therapist since his treatment could add to her research.

In the end, the ledge is a metaphor for vulnerability — facing the things that scare us or have scarred us and taking chances in life. And Allyn and Mattie discover that we become our own heroes.

Johnston is immediately sympathetic as a mental health patient who is trying to cope with his manic stream of thoughts. He oscillates; is he a real hero or not? Are heroes even real at all? This mental struggle makes him twitchy, agitated. Allyn works through this with an impromptu therapy session on the ledge with Mattie that includes discussions of heroes ranging from comic book characters to Jesus.

Mattie slowly moves from the role of therapist to a similarly vulnerable person searching for her own answers as to what makes a hero. Wylie lets this transition happen incrementally so that in the end, Mattie’s personal stories and confessions are realistic experiences.

But while the show is insightful, I felt that it dragged, as if it was too long. I kept anticipating the resolution only for the story to take another turn. By the time it did end, I was more than ready for it to wrap up.

Produced by Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Broadway’s Leading Ladies”

Rayanna Bibbs

Broadway’s Leading Ladies? Yes, yes they are.

Another Fringe concert offering, this tour de force gives their target audience just what they want: show tunes performed with presence and panache.

Shelbi Berry, Rayanna Bibbs, and Virginia Vasquez infuse their songs with passion and vocal dedication — and even sometimes with humor. From their opening, “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton, you are pulled farther in with each note, each number, all the way to the end.

The show combines the well-known (“Defying Gravity”) with lesser-known selections (“Gimmie Gimmie”) for an eclectic showcase of musical soundtracks. The tenor of each song is taken into account and performed accordingly, from the powerfully emoted “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls by Bibbs to the playful “What Is this Feeling” from Wicked by Berry and Vasquez. The show closes with a beautiful melding of the trio’s voices in “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. And each song is pitch-perfect — as is the sound system (kudos to the tech team for pulling that off, especially with the inclusion of live musicians).

Virginia Vasquez

Other standouts are Berry on “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl; “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat and “Daddy’s Son” from Ragtime by Bibbs; “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods and “Gimmie Gimmie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie by Vasquez; and the duet “In His Eyes” from Jekyll and Hyde by Berry and Vasquez.

Austin Schlenz gets some giggles as the placard changer. He struts on stage in a gold outfit reminiscent of Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Strangely, that is the second time I have referenced Rocky Horror in a Fringe review this year …)

This is the second concert I have seen at Fringe (the other being Queen Day) that has blown me away with the talent on stage. Proof positive that the Indianapolis area has some top-quality singers in our midst.

Yup, this is another one you must see.

Song list:

Shelbi Berry
  • “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton
  • “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me” from Oh, Kay!
  • “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes
  • “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat
  • “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line
  • “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I
  • “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods
  • “Daddy’s Son” from Ragtime
  • “Gimmie Gimmie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • “In His Eyes” from Jekyll and Hyde
  • “What Is this Feeling” and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
  • “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls
  • “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music

Produced by Magic Thread Cabaret

Check out their “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton:

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Intrusion”


The one-woman show performed by Qurrat Ann Kadwani is intense and eye-opening — and riveting.

Twenty years in the future, rape has been eradicated — or so everyone thought. One night, the story’s narrator sees a woman enter the hospital across the street. She is compelled to follow her and discovers that this woman has come to the ER because she has been raped. Kadwani’s narrator relates the event in a rapid-fire delivery that emphasizes the urgency of the topic.

Over the next 50 minutes, Kadwani takes on eight characters — narrator, reporter, prosecutor, day trader, psychologist, politician, school kid, and professor. Each has a unique viewpoint of rape culture and some expose alarming facts or attitudes that drive home how vital education and awareness of the topic are and how it reaches into societal aspects no one thinks about it affecting.

The show also touches on how women are still seen as “less than” — the word “rape” could apply to many actions that are set against women, even in an idyllic world that is supposedly rape-free.

Kadwani creates distinct characters, showcasing her quick-change versatility. The heavy subject matter is counterweighted by its top-notch presentation and fascinating content. This is another IndyFringe show that should not be missed.

Produced by QK Company Inc.

To make this show even more interesting, it is playing Off Broadway!

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace”

Let there be Bingo.

betsyI never thought “interactive Bingo” could be so much fun, but Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace is a high-camp trip. Reverence for the art that is Bingo, lots of stand-up comedy, and actual Bingo games (with prizes!) come together for a show that even the most introverted (such as myself) can enjoy (even if I am glad that I wasn’t one of the audience members brought on stage for Bingo balls arts-and-crafts or the Bingo wedding).

The actual Bingo games take second seat to Betsy’s Bingo commentary, storytelling, and and sexual innuendo — balls are a big deal, of course — with backup from her ex-brother-in-law Chip. 

But the interactive part is when the audience gets to join in. During Bingo play, certain letter-number combinations require actions or phrases — think Rocky Horror but with Bingo and flying candy instead of rice.

It’s a shame that you only have one more chance to see Betsy before she flits off to Bingo halls unknown, so do your best to squeeze in some ball time before they’re gone.

Produced by Betsibu Productions.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Puddin Tane”

Puddin TaneTwo high schoolers sit side by side outside the principal’s office awaiting their fates for skipping school. One, Lisa, has no parents and a lonely hymen. The other, Angel, aka Crystal Queer, has a dad so far up his ass that his mustache started to tickle his ass. Of course, they become fast friends.

Both are known for their dumpster diving outside of the church because cool stuff can often be scavenged there. Lisa, especially, likes sifting through the trash to find objects that she can use in her art projects. As much as she hates high school, she desperately wants to go to art school — not “solve for X.” It’s at this dumpster that Lisa meets Puddin Tane, a creepy priest who smokes pot and wears sunglasses all the time.

The acting is somewhat clumsy, and the storyline isn’t focused. (Is this about being an outcast or a dysfunctional family — neither is fully explored.) This one still needs some work.

Produced by Theatre Sleuth of Indianapolis.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “The Pope Walks into a Bar, Father Ned!”

Blake Mellencamp, Jeff Kirkwood, David Molloy, and Kate Duffy Sim in “The Pope Walks into a Bar” at IndyFringe

While The Pope Walks into a Bar was inspired by the TV show Father Ted, I assure you that you don’t have to have seen the TV series to appreciate this howlingly funny production.

Perpendicular Island is a remote Irish isle that boasts 75 residents. It’s also the location of a Viagra factory, which spews its own special kind of fumy pollution. Take a whiff to get you stiff. The island also houses the Perpendicular Island Parochial House, a sort of exile in the wastelands for wayward priests. Father Ned (Jeff Kirkwood) gambled away funds that were meant for much-needed repairs to a convent — yet he is the most responsible and level-headed member of the household. Father Dermott (Blake Mellencamp) is a sweet man but seriously touched in the head. Father Finn (David Molloy) is downright feral. He communicates mostly in grunts and drinks his whiskey from a Hello Kitty water bottle. His favorite pastime seems to be looking at women in bikinis, whether in magazines or on his ViewMaster, followed by a close second of running around in his knickers … or nothing at all.

When Bishop Brannigan (Jim Lucas) arrives to oversee an impending visit from the pope, things start to get even more interesting.

The housekeeper, Mrs. O’Boyle (Kate Duffy Sim), is described by the bishop as coming from the sixth ring of hell, but as the show progresses, she moves down another ring — and her mind deteriorates along with her into buckets of crazy. While her cooking skills are questionable, she does play a mean bodhran.

Clerical Error Productions gives us a full storyline and characters bursting with personality. Even some backstory slips in to flesh them out. The entire cast is fully invested, with Molloy and Duffy Sim getting the most outrageous.

This is a must-see. Prepare yourself for priest-on-leash, playing “pocket rosary,” ecclesiastical rapping (Nate Burner), a bobbing journalist (Kyrsten Lyster), and lots of fecking fun.

  • Sunday, Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday Aug. 21, 9 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug 25, 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug 26, 1:30 p.m.
  • $15
  • The District Theater stage 2
  • Written, directed, and produced by Clerical Error Productions: K. Duffy Sim, J. Kirkwood, and D. Molloy

Watch a preview here:


Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “They Shall Take Up Serpents”

Note: Apologies. WordPress decided to publish the very rough first draft of this review instead of the complete one I (thought) posted last night. Hence the double posting. Sadly, this one isn’t as detailed as the original complete review, due to time constraints.

They Shall Take Up SerpentsGarret Mathews (Carmel, Indiana) took a subject most people find insane — snake handling — and crafted a funny and thoughtful piece of theater from it.

Mathews has seen this phenomenon first-hand, having written a column about it (and many other subjects) for Evansville’s Courier & Press before his retirement from the journalism world. His main character in the play, Cindy, is based on one of his interviews.

Snake handling is a rare subculture within the Pentecostal church and is most often found in rural areas in the South. The practice stems from a verse in Mark 16: “They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

You have to admit: tempting deadly snakes and drinking poison certainly take faith.

They Shall Take Up Serpents is set in Jolo, West Virginia, outside the Church of the Lord Jesus. Cindy (Hannah Jo Black), a new congregant, is a young woman deprived of power — her domineering father (Thom Johnson) bleeds her dry, saying she owes him for his financial investment in her. His demeaning verbal abuse over the years has turned her inside out, siphoning off all her perceived worth. But for the past eight weeks, Cindy has made the two-hour drive to Jolo to attend the services of a snake-handling church. Now, she is on the cusp of stepping up and taking her turn with the rattlers and, in effect, taking back her personal power.

Black plays the painfully introverted Cindy with a demure voice and restless hands. Cindy continuously tries to bury herself farther into her sweater, almost subconsciously trying to hide herself or protect herself from the world. In contrast to Cindy’s character, Maryanne Mathews plays the lively if eccentric one-eyed Velma, a life-long member and matriarch of the church. Velma’s character is bizarrely entertaining. If the show had scenery, I would say Mathews chews on it. Velma is country through and through, and she exudes the love for life and faith that is sorely lacking in Cindy’s world. Velma’s fun-loving, unfiltered, and infectious nature is what helps Cindy finally decide to take that step and come into her own.

The two are intruded upon by a bumbling young journalist, Ran (Kyle James Dorsch). Dorsch is a cute and gawky Ran, and Velma gets to poke some fun at him, eliciting a smile and eventually a laugh from Cindy. But his sudden and passionate concern for Cindy’s potential future is too abrupt, making that scenario unrealistic.

Overall, Garret Mathews manages to show us the growth of Cindy from withering wallflower to blooming self-confidence within 50 minutes. That is certainly an impressive feat.

Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

IndyFringe Festival: “Act VI Scene I (Shakespeare and Zombies)”

Act VI Scene I (Shakespeare and Zombies)So, if Shakespeare hooked up with the writers of Dawn of the Dead …

“The Lord Chamberlain’s Men” tell the tale of a zombie apocalypse with all the Shakespearean trappings (such as a gooey, lovestruck couple, narration, and soliloquies) and tongue-tripping language.

And clogging … and condoms … and a soused, lustful priest … and shotguns … and boxed wine … and a Swashio to get them all through this alive.

While the show certainly has its moments of hilarity, it can also get a little dark, like when Swashio tells his tale of having to shoot his zombified mother. But it also has long stretches where it’s not funny, or dark, or much of anything — just filler dialogue.

More zombie conflict, please.

But the acting is laudable — Swashio by far my favorite — and the anticipation of what crazy might come next helps gets you through those slow parts.

Do keep an ear out for cameos of some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines or references.

You can watch a preview here:

Starring Pat Mullen, Audrey Stonerock, Dave Ruark, and Nathan Thomas. Written and directed by Matt Walls.