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.

Back to the routine

Now that IndyFringe is done and September is here, we’ll resume the weekly look-aheads.

This weekend we have just one stage opening: the two-weekend run of “The Prince and the Pauper” by Center Stage Productions at Southport Presbyterian Church.

There is also an encore performance of an IndyFringe favorite, “Jason Adams is a God Damn Mind Reader,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the IndyFringe Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair St. in downtown Indy, by the intersection of Mass Ave., St. Clair and College Ave. If you didn’t see one of the sold-out Fringe performances, and are not offended at the show’s title, then by all means go see this wild mix of comedy and mental magic.

This weekend is also Labor Day, and you can wear your white shoes one more time to Indy LaborFest Saturday in the heart of Downtown Indianapolis for free, all-ages fun.

However you do it, enjoy your weekend!

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: Hannibal: “LIAR!”

By Wendy Carson

“Hannibal: ‘LIAR!’” at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre was the most “grown-up” magic show of the Fringe, so the fact that there were some younger children in attendance causing him to partially censor himself actually made it much funnier, in my opinion.

His tricks are presented as a story of his childhood and the delight that he experienced whenever his grandfather would entertain him with even the simplest of illusions. While there are a few points in which the audience participates, the amazement delivered is abundant. Especially when one of the other Fringe performers reacted to some impressive card predictions with, “He’s the Devil!”

If you get a chance to see Chris Hannibal, AKA #CardMonkey, do. It’s a charming hour of fun and tricks that will make you glad that you came.

Fringe review: The Comedy Magic of Oscar Munoz

By Wendy Carson

Firstly, I must admit that when I attended “The Comedy Magic of Oscar Munoz” at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre on Thursday night, I had confused my times and thought I was seeing, “Hannibal, ‘LIAR!’” By the time I figured out I was in the wrong show, there was no way for me to get to another one, and since I hadn’t been able to fit this into my schedule, I figured I’d go ahead and watch it, and I am glad I did.

The tricks are fun, but not too elaborate, and Munoz works the crowd beautifully. Since there were some children in the audience they were happily recruited to assist him with his illusions. In fact, much of the audience became involved in one way or another.

Rabbits and birds appear out of thin air and even the simplest tricks are presented with such aplomb that you can’t help but be charmed by it all. So bring the whole family to this show and catch a wonderful evening of magic and humor.