IndyFringe: Copyright/Safe

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson and John L. Belden

Playwright Casey Ross has brought to the Fringe her love letter to the comics industry, particularly Marvel and its X-Men franchise.

In “Copyright/Safe,” the characters are members of a superhero team who are self-aware in a manner much like professional wrestlers — they know their lives are scripted, but it still hurts when they fall.

The show begins with Badger (Dave Pelsue) and Creature (Doug Powers) graveside, mourning the loss of their creator. With his passing, the team’s future seems to be in limbo, adding to the tension among team members. Eyepatch (Zach Stonerock), the ersatz leader, is missing and while their final issue is at the printer, no one seems to know what the future holds.

Badger deals with the situation by drinking heavily and expressing his feelings through music (songs written by Pelsue) at his small club. He also tolerates sharing his apartment with Mask (Taylor Cox) a fan-fiction character who appeared in an episode of the Z-Men cartoon, which makes him an official part of the world.

Whether or not you are familiar with comic books, the very real dynamic of a group of people wondering about their futures is indentifiable to all. Ross is brilliant at tense and relatable dialogue, even in a setting such as this. For fans of “sequential art,” note that atmospherically this play brings the style of a graphic novel to life better than most superhero films.

This touching drama is also comic in the sense of having truly hilarious moments.

One important note, however: though comic books are traditionally for children, the language in this show is quite “Rated M for Mature.”

Performances are in the IndyFringe Theatre.

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