IndyFringe: meSSeS

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By Wendy Carson

It has been a few years since we have had a clowning master class at IndyFringe, but this year, with “meSSeS,” Janoah Bailin brings us a spectacular one.

First, each audience member is given three scarves with which you will learn the rudimentary skills of juggling during the show and will only get better with practice (he also has a QR code link to his teaching online).

Janoah shows us his juggling prowess using balls, swords, pins, as well as popcorn kernels at one point. His is also a master of not one, but two unicycles of varying heights. He performs some very original gags and spectacular feats of balancing, but it is in the allowing for some of his stunts to go wrong that his humor shines.

I honestly can’t give you more details without spoiling some of the humor but suffice it to say that the show is a family friendly delight. Bring out the kids and see who ends up being the best juggler in the family. Performances are 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 (today as we post this), and next Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (5:15 p.m.), Sept. 3-4, at the Indy Eleven stage in the IndyFringe Theatre.

IndyFringe: My Grandmother’s Eyepatch

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By Wendy Carson

Welcome to the memorial service for Mamie Lee Ratliff Finger, beloved wife, mother and grandmother.

Julia Finger VanderVeen, Mamie’s granddaughter, has brought us all to pay tribute to the life of this remarkable woman. Through stories told by several attendees and Julia herself, we discover much about Mamie’s life and times.

For some strange reason, we learn almost as much about Julia throughout the course of our event. Perhaps this portion of the show was meant to be for the several Agents who RSVP’d but did not actually show up.

At one point, Julia becomes so bereft that when a message with instructions for resurrection of a loved one finds its way to us, she makes an attempt. Whether it is successful, I must leave for you to discover.

I could go on to try to describe exactly how great this show is, but words cannot fully express the sheer level of hilarity Julia reaches with her dry wit and physical humor. Suffice to say, you will regret not seeing this show.

Yet, while her grandmother’s time is through, there is still time for you. The show returns for the last weekend of Fringe, 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, and 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Indy Eleven stage of the IndyFringe Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair.

Civic steps up with Hitchcock comedy

By John Lyle Belden

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most acclaimed films is also one of his earliest successes. “The 39 Steps,” a 1935 spy thriller set in Britain, not only reflected the tensions of inevitable war with Germany, but also set the style and elements of most of his classic movies that followed. They include the innocent man on the run; settings in famous landmarks; the icy, beautiful blonde…

However, when you see “The 39 Steps” as presented by the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, you might think of another famous filmmaker – notably Mel Brooks’ “High Anxiety,” in which the comic genius thoroughly spoofed Hitchcock’s work. Yes, this thriller is a comedy! Adapted from the film (and the 1915 novel by John Buchan) by Patrick Barlow, from a concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, the noir farce involves just four frantic actors and (like “Anxiety”) a few references to other Hitch classics.

Matt Kraft has just one role, but it’s a doozy. His Richard Hannay gets thrown into all manner of unlikely situations, including being set up for murder. To clear his name, he must rush from London to Scotland and back. Along his story, he encounters Haley Glickman as a doomed spy, a starved-for-excitement Scottish wife, and most importantly the woman who is determined to have him arrested, until she realizes the cops aren’t real. All other roles are played by Eric Reiberg and John Walls, in the program as Man #1 and Man #2, though the roles are also referred to as the Clowns. This latter label definitely works, as they slip into various characters and caricatures exhibiting Monty Python-level hilarity. For their part(s), Kraft and Glickman manage an excellent mix of slapstick and leading-couple chemistry.

Sharp direction is provided by John Michael Goodson (if he did a Hitchcock-style cameo, I missed it). Clever stage design by Ryan Koharchik has set elements all on rollers, so scene changes match the manic pace of the show.

No need to go all the way to the Highlands for this adventure, just as far north as Carmel, on the Tarkington stage at the Center for the Performing Arts through Feb. 19. For info and tickets, go to or

IndyFringe: ‘The Truth*’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at

By John Lyle Belden

To tell The Truth: Will the real benevolent dictator please stand up?

The clowns of A Muse Zoo are the kind of red-nose folks who speak, telling their Truth with jesters’ license. One puts on the furrowed brow of a professor, relating the True story of an imaginary land:

You may not know of the country of Kundnanibonbar, as it was just discovered. Four different neighboring tyrants looked over their border with it and each decided to take the land and its resources for his or her own purposes…

But this lecture is often interrupted, as the teacher leaves the room, allowing each ruler in turn to step in and tell us their Truth.

So, whose Truth will prevail: the flower girl, the cheese smuggler, the mole-person, or the boy prince?

(Aside: In an appropriately bizarre coincidence, during the weekend we are presented with this comic allegory of how history is written by the victors, there are reports that the President’s lawyer is declaring that every person has their own Truth, so what is The Truth anyway?)

In the Fringe show, “The Truth*,” aside from all the thinky content, we get very funny and entertaining performances, with all manner of silliness from whimsy to slapstick to melodrama. Note the bees are not real, but there is use of a strobe light. – So, that’s my Truth.

Therefore be careful with your soup, and listen to the turtle on your shoulder when he tells you to see A Muse Zoo at 9 p.m. tonight (Monday, Aug. 20) at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair, just off Mass Ave. and College, in their last show before returning to Oregon.

And that’s The Truth.

IndyFringe 2015 Wrap-Up

We had a great time at this year’s IndyFringe. Though we didn’t see all the shows, we saw quite a few, so, here in one place are the links to all our reviews, for anyone wanting to look one up:

4.48 Psychosis” by Savage at Last

4Square” by AV Productions

Acting My Age” by Matt Holt

The Adventures of Les Kurkendaal” by Les Kurkendaal

Auditioning for Swan Lake” by Lou Ann Homan

The Best of Indy Magic Monthly” by Magic Taylor’d for You (Taylor Martin)

Breakneck Hamlet” by Tim Mooney

Bromance” by Farewell Tour Productions

Cabaret of Puppetry” by Peewinkle Studios

Ca-Ching” by Nomads Collective

Camp Summer Camp” by Defiance Comedy

Cocooned in Kazan” by Royal Kung Foolery

The Comedy Magic of Oscar Munoz” by Oscar Munoz

Dancing in the Mist” by RibbetRepublic

Drosselmeyer’s Magical Bedtime Story” by No Exit Performance

The Eulogy” by Michael Burgos

Fruit Flies Like a Banana” by Fourth Wall

Ghost Story” by Peter-John Byrnes

Growing Up All Over Myself” by Mat Alanso-Martin

Hannibal: LIAR!” by Chris Hannibal

Hell’s Fourth Ring: The Mall Musical” by Casey Ross Productions

Home Grown Originals” by Band O’ Leers

An Indian Comedian: How Not To Fit In” by Krish Mohan

I’m Not Gay” by Submatter Press

Interrupting the Sermon” by First Hand Theatrical

The Invisible Man” by What’s in a Name? Company

Jason Adams is a God Damn Mind Reader” by Jason Adams

Kill the Column” by MamaProductions

Laughing Sober” by Rick Garrett

A Little Business at the BIG TOP” by David Gaines

Men’s Room” by MayDay Productions

Mom?” by Box of Clowns

Mr. Boniface, the Wise” by KT Peterson

My Sister Diane” by Jim May

Not My Baby!” by Dreadmelon Productions

The Not So Secret Origin of Captain Ambivalent” by Captain Ambivalent

ODDyssey” by Blair Godshall

Orange is the New Black Keys” by ComedySportz Indianapolis

Sarge” by Clifton Performance Theatre

The Secret Book of Jesus” by Maximum Verbosity

Shakespeare’s Ear” by Early Music in Motion

The Shout” by In the Mix

The Sibling Staircase” by Sally Perkins

Speedthru” by Eclectic Pond

Threads” by Tonya Jone Miller

Tipped and Tipsy” by Jill Vice

Top Shelf: Our Last American Tour – Again” by Betty Rage

The Traveling Tap Dance Super Show” by TapMan Productions with Circle City Tap Company

Ulysses Grant: A Fluxkit Opera” by Stephen Rush

Up Yours, Indianapolis” by The Fleece Academy

VELOUR” by Schedule C Productions

Whisper in My Good Ear” by Vintage Players

Who Run The World: A Madwomen’s Cabaret” by Main Street Artists

The Wizer of Odd” by Gift of Gab

Working Titles” by Jeremy Schaefer

The Yellow Wallpaper” by Earlham Theatre Department

Fringe review: A Little Business at the BIG TOP

By Wendy Carson

What can one say to describe the sheer genius of David Gaines? He manages to convey rich stories and delightful characters without uttering a word. His use of sound and mime create more elaborate drama and comedy than you would believe possible.

That talent is on brilliant display in “A Little Business at the BIG TOP,” playing on the Theatre on the Square main stage, in which he plays all the characters at a circus.

If you saw the amazing whirlwind that was his past show, “7(x1) Samurai,” or even are new to his talents, do not miss this opportunity. It truly is a delight for all ages. The two young children sitting near me at Saturday’s performance were entirely rapt by the whole thing (and they had been hesitant to see it when they found out it was a mime show).

Again, see this amazing show! You might regret missing out on the experience.

Fringe review: “Mom?”

By John Lyle Belden

Before you turn up your non-ruby nose at this “clown show,” do consider that missing this could mean passing up one of the funniest, most entertaining offerings of IndyFringe.

“’Mom?’ A Comedy of Mourners” is presented by Box of Clowns, which is more than a clever name for this trio. As the show opens we are presented with a small table of a stage and a trunk that turns out to contain, within its bottomless void, our three clown siblings. Victoria is kinda smart; Frank is kinda brave; and Mango is… well… unique.

They arrive to honor their deceased mother and scatter her ashes. This may seem a bit morbid for a comedy, but laughter is the perfect medicine for this occasion, and these characters deliver abundantly. Their acrobatic antics have them never leave the platform upon which they stand – except to disappear into and pop out of the box from time to time. Yet with these confines, they even manage a chase scene.

This hilarious hour is definitely a must-see. I’m sure Mom would have approved.