IndyFringe: BRAIN-O-RAMA — Mentalism and Mischief

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Kevin Burke is a brave soul, and I’m not referring to him calling himself “the world’s only psychic comedian” or how he plays Russian roulette with staple guns — meaning we either get a mentalist trick or a sideshow geek act — but because he has the audacity of leaving the sound-effects for his show totally in the hands of the venue tech.

At ComedySportz.

At the show I attended, the goofball up in the tech’s crow’s nest was Mark Cashwell, which meant that Burke’s hilarious antics just got that much funnier.

Goofy noises aside, Burke demonstrates his “telepathetic” powers in various ways, and even teaches us a trick. He also leaves some of the mentalism in the hands of the amateurs he brings up on stage so if it works, he’s a genius; if it doesn’t, it’s your fault. Bur regardless, you will laugh — a lot.

See and experience yourself this Friday, Saturday or Sunday (Aug. 23-25) at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: Tasty Bits – The Magic and Stories of Taylor Martin

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Locally-based magician Taylor Martin — popular for his historical and drag characters — has accumulated a lot of interesting experiences. He has been posting them on Facebook, each under the title “There’s a Story to be Told.” One reader said the snippets of his life are like “Tasty Bits,” and thus Martin had a title for his latest Fringe Show.

That’s also a story he told.

I know Martin well enough to recognize that was his Jethro Tull album playing as we entered the venue. We are totally in his element. 

We meet Rodney the Younger, Rodney the Elder, and Madame Esmarelda, but what’s more unusual, we get to know Taylor Martin himself.  He has so many “Bits” — from touring, his past as a singing telegram, and all the interesting and famous people he has met — that he has placed many of them into envelopes. In true magician style, audience members are asked to pick the next one he will tell. These he will only tell once during the run of the show, so each performance is different. Others he will tell every time, like how he came to be friends with Penn & Teller. 

Martin has performed and produced in nearly every IndyFringe, but this show is unlike any other he’s done. There will be illusions, such as his 100-year-old magic box; but you also get the story of how he now has a 100-year-old magic box. 

If you know him at all, you know this is going to be good. If you don’t, well, he has some stories to tell you. Performances are today through Friday and Sunday by the Indy Firefighters’ Museum, 748 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: Vixen DeVille Revealed

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

A burlesque show like no other, if you can at all make it, you must see “Vixen DeVille Revealed” in one of its two performances this weekend – 3 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 17-18) at the Indy Eleven theater (719 E. St. Clair). Yes, I put the pitch at the top, in case you are reading this with only a few minutes before showtime. It’s that important.

Mind though, this Londoner does use extremely salty language, and we might get down to the pasties at the show’s climax, but otherwise this is an exciting, entertaining, hilarious and inspiring teens-and-up show.

We get right to business with Ms. DeVille, star of stage, horror flicks, and TV’s “Masters of Illusion,” with a game of “Is There Enough Broken Glass on Stage?” She not only performs glass-walking (with a little bit of striptease) but as an entertainer who enjoys teaching, she will instruct an audience member to walk on the shards as well (only needing to remove shoes and socks).

She goes through various routines as she describes how she became a burlesque entertainer despite being unable to sing or dance, and self-conscious about stripping. She also explains how she is not a magician, but she needed to work up a sword-box illusion so that she had an excuse to buy the sword that goes with the “beacon of shame” corset. During costume changes, we are treated to video footage and recorded interview snippets that add a lot to the show, and don’t feel like filler.

As we learn more, we get glimpses of Cat LaCohie, the former shy nine-year-old who always wonders if she’s good enough. This side especially shows when an accident nearly destroys her arm, and her confidence. Her vulnerability in telling the story transforms this show from great to brilliant. There has been an acrobatic hoop hanging over the stage this whole time – it has changed from just part of her act to a triumphant ascendance.

Kudos, by the way, to her faithful Kitty, as well her sword-box accomplice.

The only downside is that the show runs long, even with having to cut out the fire-eating segment due to venue safety rules – so it might be rushed or spill over in remaining performances. But do stay to the end.

IndyFringe: The Reluctant Mind Reader

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Brendon Ware was cursed with the ability to read minds. Because he enjoys lying, we have to just take his word for it; nevertheless he will make sure we all suffer for it – laughing the whole time.

“I’m a de-motivational speaker,” he says, as he tests a relationship, shows how he cheats at reading, tells you what was in your pocket, and even makes you feel bad for winning money. And despite his best efforts to use his powers for evil, it will thoroughly entertain you.

As I’ve hinted, there is plenty of audience participation, but it won’t hurt (trust me).

I know what you’re thinking: “I should see this.” Well, you only have two more shots during this Fringe: 6 p.m. today and 9 p.m. tomorrow (Aug. 17-18) at the Indy Eleven (719 E. St. Clair).

IndyFringe: ‘Mindless: Deception, Fraud, and Other Lies’

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 www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Is it possible to read somebody’s mind? This is the question proposed by Evan Northrup’s delightful show.

He recounts how he initially learned card tricks and magic to gain popularity and overcome his “outcast” status. As many of you would expect, it didn’t quite work out that well.

His mastery of instantaneous memorization, subtle manipulations and astute reading of micro expressions makes his abilities seem overwhelmingly supernatural. Plus, his slick showmanship and charisma keeps the audience’s rapt attention.

A wonderful treat for young and old alike, performances are at the IndyFringe Basile (main stage) Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair, just east of the Mass Ave. and College intersection.

IndyFringe: ‘Millennial Magic’

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 www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Expert magician Trigg Watson incorporates modern technology (Google’s Alexa, GoPro Cameras, iPads, etc.) into more traditional illusions to elevate them to a level that will have you questioning your own eyes.

While the execution is not always flawless, his ability to put an original spin on even the most common tricks is amazing. In fact, even when you are convinced that you know exactly how the illusion is done, he will take it in another direction that you never would have imagined in the first place

While the show is thoroughly family-friendly and delightful, I must warn you to beware of the rogue baby carrots and sudden attacks of gravity that plagued our audience. Be warned, but be entertained.

Performances are at the IndyFringe Basile (main stage) Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair St., just east of the Mass Ave. and College intersection.

 

IndyFringe: ‘The Best of Taylor Martin’s Indy Magic, Vol. 3’

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 www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

As one of the longest-running performers at the Fringe, Taylor Martin once again brings us an evening of magic, comedy and entertainment for all ages (especially the kids — they will have a ball).

The cast of magicians rotates, but you are always guaranteed to enjoy yourself regardless of who is performing. I managed to catch the Saturday matinee and my lineup included The Great Obtuse, The Amazing Barry and perennial favorite, Cody Clark.

All of them turned in solid performances. Cody debuted a delightful new routine, and Obtuse lived up to his name and kept us laughing throughout. The Amazing Barry brings the show home by doing a card trick with his feet (trust me, it’s really worth seeing).\

I found out later that one of The Amazing Barry’s illusions went wrong. However, I, along with the rest of the audience) thought it was meant to go that way to make the actual completion of the trick even more impressive.

So come on out and watch the show. Who knows what will happen?

Performances are at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 St. Clair, just east of the Mass Ave and College intersection.

IndyFringe: Neil Tobin, Necromancer: Near Death Experience

By John Lyle Belden

Now that the 2017 IndyFringe festival is done, we all have plenty of time to contemplate our mortality. Fortunately, we got a start on that during the Fringe with Neil Tobin, self-proclaimed Necromancer, and his show, “Near Death Experience.”

Despite his magical title, Tobin doesn’t bring anyone back from the dead (except, maybe, himself – and he did invite us along). But he is a magician, who employs tricks to enhance his talk on facing your future end by living in the here and now.

Illusionists often project an air of mystery, and Tobin exploits this trait to add to the show’s atmosphere. The intimate confines of the downstairs stage at the Phoenix Theatre – a former church building with its own dark history and uncertain future – already give a sense that the veil between life and what comes next is thin. In this supernatural air, his mastery over a small piece of reality – Is this the word you saw and kept to yourself? It is! – makes him our guide to the unknown.

Tobin doesn’t give us The Answers, but perhaps better questions, presenting the irony that by recognizing that death eventually comes, we can accept that life has already arrived. Meanwhile, we get to marvel at some slight-of-hand and sleight-of-mind, delivered with appropriately dark humor.

I add that the more uncertain you feel about the topic of death and dying – the closer you’ve felt to mortality for yourself or a loved one – the more this exercise in morbid optimism is recommended.

Tobin plans to make the experience even more immersive with site-specific performances at funeral homes and cemetery chapels, but your bravery will be rewarded. Discover the beauty of our eternal gardens, and our duty to make the most of time remaining above the sod.

Find information on shows and performances at www.neardeathx.com.

IndyFringe: An Alien of Extraordinary Ability

By Wendy Carson

This is one of the most interesting takes on a magic show I’ve seen in a while. Simon Coronel not only shows you a simple trick, he shows you how it is done. However, this is immediately followed up by a similar illusion that is vastly more complex to help further amaze you at his level of skill.

His interactions with various audience members (yes, there is audience participation, but he does practice “consensual magic”) is a delight and even when you know what is going to happen or how the trick is done, his deft use of misdirection will always surprise you.

This is a great evening of magic for the whole family that will keep you laughing no matter whether you are seeking the truth or reveling in the wonder of it all.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27, on the Phoenix Theatre underground stage. Info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.

IndyFringe: Cody Clark, A different way of thinking

By Wendy Carson

If you weren’t aware of it going in, you will certainly know before leaving, Cody Clark is Autistic. However, he has discovered a way to embrace that part of his being through his skills as a magician. The show is an autobiographical journey through his life up to now and how he has been able to overcome so many of the issues regarding his autism primarily through his study of magic.

Not only will you be delighted by the illusions performed, you will also be privy to a lot of data regarding autism and the day-to-day challenges faced by those inflicted.

Since autism causes a person’s brain to be literally “wired differently”, social interactions as well as physical or athletic abilities are a challenge that are often difficult to overcome. Luckily, Cody’s early passion for magic helped him develop not only the courage and confidence to believe in himself but the deft motor skills in order to perform.

Even if you take autism off the table, this is a very solid magic show by a young talent that is already making a name for himself. His takes on various standard tricks are creative and they embellish his story rather than detract from it.

The show is very family-friendly and even though most of Thursday’s sell-out audience were college students, the sheer delight that they beheld lets me know that this is the show you simply must bring your kids to.

One quick word of warning, though. There is audience participation and no area of the audience is off-limits to be drawn from. I know this might hinder some, but since the theme of the show is that it’s OK to be different, you will not be scorned if you choose not to go onstage. There will be plenty of other willing volunteers to take your place.

Performances are at the Theatre  on the Square second stage Aug. 22,  26 and 27. Get info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.