IndyFringe: C-

By Wendy Carson

Your college years, they were fun — weren’t they?

You had a good time and the worries of the day-to-day working world were but a distant glimmer on the horizon. But now graduation is over 20 years behind you. What have you done with your life and what do you wish that you had been taught back then to better prepare you for your future?

This is the story of one man’s quest to reconnect with some of his frat brothers in order to discern the answers to those questions. Among those Eric Jaffe finds are his redneck buddy who went to college because his parents wouldn’t support his dream of being a “Rock God,” the disgraced athlete who let his scholarship slip through his fingers, and “The Sponge” who was always smoking pot but never bought any of it.

The stories are compelling and their messages are strong. In fact, I would hope that parents would try to bring out their high school-aged kids to see this and maybe learn some of the pitfalls that college offers.

However, the narrative was not at all linear, and this caused the individual characters’ storylines to be impossible to follow. With a little polish, this could be an amazing show that could be a useful teaching tool for college-bound students.

Even so, the message is important enough to make this show worth a look.

Performances are at the Theatre on the Square second stage Aug. 25 and 27. Info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.

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Review: A farcical mystery, or mystery farce?

By John Lyle Belden

Up at The Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel, the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre presents “The Game’s Afoot,” a Sherlock Holmes-inspired comedy by Ken Ludwig, through Nov. 7.

Actor William Gillette (Josh Ramsey) is so comfortable playing Holmes that when a hated theater critic (Christine Kruze) is stabbed in his home during a dinner party – an affair set up to find out who had shot and wounded him during his last performance – he puts on the deerstalker hat and seeks to unravel the mystery, much to the consternation of the police detective (Carrie Ann Schlatter). Theatre friends (and suspects) played by Bill Book, Jean Childers Arnold, Alex Ray and Emily Howell, with Wendy Brown as Gillette’s mother, all add to the chaos and physical comedy Ludwig farces are famous for.

The gorgeous set is complete with the necessary doors to slam, a stairwell for entrances and even a hidden room with its comical moments. And the manner(s) in which our victim is dispatched does point out the real-world fact that if you’re not practiced at it, killing someone can be a lot harder than you think.

The play’s run ends Saturday. Get info and tickets at 317-843-3800 or http://www.civictheatre.org.

Review: Time for ‘Timon’

Timon (Brian Hartz, center) is finally losing patience with the artist (Bradford Reilly, left) and poet (Taylor Cox) who had been so eager to take his money in Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens," presented by Casey Ross Productions at the 2015 Bard Fest in Carmel, Ind.
Timon (Brian Hartz, center) is finally losing patience with the artist (Bradford Reilly, left) and poet (Taylor Cox) who had been so eager to take his money in Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens,” presented by Casey Ross Productions at the 2015 Bard Fest in Carmel, Ind. — CRP photo

By John Lyle Belden

You’ve heard the phrase, “generous to a fault” – now see the consequences play out in Casey Ross Production’s “Timon of Athens” during the Bard Fest Shakespeare Festival in downtown Carmel.

In Shakespeare’s least-produced play, which, having elements of both his comedies and tragedies, Ross considers a black comedy, Athenian nobleman Timon (played by Brian G. Hartz) lavishes his wealth on friends and hangers-on, overpaying for art and giving to all who ask – or even don’t ask, but are there to receive it.

Only his steward, Flavius (Colin McCord), sees the danger of Timon’s dwindling fortunes. And only the self-denying philosopher Apemantus (Carey Shea) refuses to accept any gifts, making him the only one Timon is suspicious of, rather than the leeches at his banquet.

When Flavius finally gets through to Timon, the nobleman is broke – even his lands are forfeit. The “friends” who received so generously will give him nothing, so a disgusted Timon leaves the city to live in the wilderness. Even the discovery of a cache of gold does not make Timon happy, other than his mad glee to use the found fortune to curse Athens while keeping nothing for himself.

Hartz is in his element with this complex character, keeping him easy to root for as both the generous noble of the first act and the wild man in the woods of the second. Shea is a worthy foil; McCord is sharp as the faithful servant; and Tristan Ross takes on yet another Shakespeare role with ease as the exiled Athenian general Alcibiades. Notable are Bradford Reilly and Taylor Cox as the painter and poet who seek Timon’s patronage for a life of leisure, but all are well cast, including Tom Weingartner, David Mosedale, Allyson Womack and Minnie Ryder.

As both parable and intriguing drama, “Timon” is worth making the effort to see, and kudos to Ross for tackling the difficult job of polishing this rare gem. Upcoming performances are 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15; and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

The festival also hosts performances of the comedy “As You Like It” by First Folio and the tragedy of “Othello” by Garfield Shakespeare Company. In addition, Ross hosts Shakespeare trivia contests during the festival, as well as a performance of her latest Fringe play, “Hell’s 4th Ring: The Mall Musical” at 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

The stage is located at 15 First Ave. NE in the Carmel downtown Arts and Design District (former location of Carmel Community Players). For information and tickets, visit the the Carmel Theatre Company website.

Our Fringe Schedule

Last night’s preview round-up of IndyFringe shows was bittersweet as there are only so many time slots in the opening weekend for us to go and see the shows (our press passes only work through Sunday), will be missing out on so many amazing offerings that we both really wanted to see.

Here’s the list of shows we plan to review:
THURSDAY
6:00PM: Auditioning for Swan Lake… (John); Not My Baby! (Wendy)
7:30PM: My Sister Diane: A Story of Hope, Humor and Hospice (J.); Mr. Boniface, the Wise (W.)
9:00PM: Home Grown Original (J.); Tipped & Tipsy (W.)
FRIDAY
6:00PM: Mom? A Comedy of Mourners (J.); Bromance (W.)
7:30PM: VELOUR (J.); Orange is the New Black Keys (W.)
9:00PM: Ca-ching (J.); Men’s Room (W.)
10:30PM The Yellow Wallpaper (J.); 4.48 Psychosis (W.)
SATURDAY
1:30PM: Growing Up All Over Myself (J.); The Invisible Man (W.)
3:00PM: Cocooned in Kazan (J.); My Wildlife – Owl By Myself (W.)
4:30PM: The Secret Book of Jesus (J.); A Little Business at the Big Top (W.)
6:00PM: Interrupting the Sermon (J.); Ulysses Grant: a Fluxkit Opera (W.)
7:30PM: Shakespeare’s Ear (J.); Top Shelf … Our Last American Tour Again (W.)
9:00PM: Holy Ficus (J.); Working Titles (W.)
10:30PM: I’m Not Gay (J.); Ghost Story (W.)
SUNDAY
1:30PM: Whisper into My Good Ear (J.); The Shout (W.)
3:00PM: Camp Summer Camp (J.); Up Yours, Indianapolis (W.)
4:30PM: Who Run The World: A Madwomen’s Cabaret (J.); Drosselmeyer’s Magical Bedtime Story (W.)
6:00PM: Acting My Age (J.); ODDyssey (W.)
7:30PM: SARGE (J.); Not So Secret Origin of Captain Ambivilant (W.)
9:00PM: Kill the Column (J.); The Eulogy (W.)

Also, some of our friends are comping us into their shows, which will help increase our total, but we’re still going to miss out some we really wish we could see. The following we will see thanks to performer comps:
MONDAY
6:00PM: Hell’s Fourth Ring (The Mall Musical)
7:30PM: Laughing Sober
9:00PM: The Best of Indy Magic Monthly
TUESDAY
6:00PM: (Open)
7:30PM: Dancing in the Mist
9:00PM: (Open)
WEDNESDAY
6:00PM: (Open)
7:30PM: Jason Adams is a God Damn Mind Reader
9:00PM: (Open)
THURSDAY
6:00PM: Breakneck Hamlet
7:30PM: (Open)
9:00PM: (Open)

So, that’s our schedule. There will likely be a few revisions due to sell-outs and other unforeseen issues but this is it for now.

To performers, if you do not see your show listed, we would be more than willing to see it and post a review. You just need to put us on your comp list. We not only love seeing the shows, but more so helping promote the performers.

“Stoops” and suds this weekend

Gettin' Stoop-id: The cast of Casey Ross Productions'
Gettin’ Stoop-id: The cast of Casey Ross Productions’ “She Stoops to Conquer” — CRP photo

John just got finished updating the Stage Calendar to add the very full season just announced at Theatre on the Square, as well as a few shows presented by Wisdom Tooth. The TOTS season includes “Batboy: The Musical,” Sondheim’s “Passion,” Tony nominee “Skylight,” the return of “Miss Gulch Returns” and “8 Reindeer Monologues” – the latter of which runs at the same time as the stage version of “A Christmas Story” – the intriguing “Porn Stars at Home,” and wraps up next summer with a production of the musical “Rent.”

As for fresh theatre this week, local playwright Casey Ross adapts and stars in the 1700s comedy “She Stoops to Conquer,” opening Friday at Grove Haus, 1001 Hosbrook St., near Fountain Square. Since it’s too hot for powdered wigs, the play is reset in 1980s Florida. Given the level of insanity the state is known for, this should be good.

The city’s oldest beer fest, Brew-Ha-Ha, returns Saturday to the street in front of the Phoenix Theatre (700 block of N. Park Ave.), for which the event is a fundraiser. The price is $30 in advance, $35 on site, but you get as many samples as you can handle from 29 local and area breweries. Hours are 3 to 7 p.m., but if you get the advance VIP ticket for 50 bucks, you can start at 2 p.m. Rather than drink and drive, you could consider sobering up at the Phoenix’s “American Idiot” at 8 (costs its own ticket, get a reservation in case it sells out again).

Thursday night we are checking out the 10@10 Comedy Open Mic at ComedySportz, 721 Mass Ave. Looks like it’s a weekly event until CSz gets tired of it. Aside from its regular all-ages improv comedy “games,” ComedySportz also has mature-audiences long-form improv late on Friday nights – lately they have been skewering the “Wizard of Oz.”

– See you in the audience!

Have the time of your life

From memecrunch.com
From memecrunch.com

No big openings in local theatre companies this weekend – feel free to see continuing productions at Phoenix, TOTS, Beef & Boards and IndyFringe, as well as what Bobdirex and Eclectic Pond are up to.

Actually, there is one “new” show in town. The touring production of the stage musical version of “Dirty Dancing” is under way through Sunday at Clowes Memorial Hall. Sounds like fun, if you loved the movie, and who doesn’t love that movie?!

For us, this is one of our favorite weekends of the year. Aside from the bigger-than-ever Pride festival, there is the Independent Music and Arts Festival at the Harrison Center for the Arts at the corner of 16th and Delaware streets downtown. The IMAF is all free, and you get to see some great local art, shop among area artisans and crafters, and see and hear several great musical acts.

Meanwhile, just a block away from IMAF is the Talbot Street Art Fair, celebrating its 60th year Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free, with dozens and dozens of booths to check out. Many people complement Wendy on her tie-dye dresses; she gets them at the Talbot Street fair, from Kiss of Color. Please check them out.

Away from downtown, there is also the Indianapolis mayor’s office-hosted Veterans picnic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Garfield Park (free food for those who served and their families), and Holy Rosary’s annual Italian Fest Friday and Saturday with lots of generously-portioned food. On Sunday, the 4th Annual Irvington Folk Festival (through June 20) gets started just a few miles east of downtown.

So there you are: Go have some fun!