Fonseca’s debut drama shows what we are capable of building

By Wendy Carson*

I honestly don’t know what is more horrifying about Robert Shenkkan’s play, “Building the Wall,” the details of atrocities committed or the sheer fact that I can see all of it happening in the real world, pretty much the exact way it does in the script.

The story revolves around a college professor conducting an interview with a reluctant prison inmate. Throughout their dialogue, you discover why Rick has been incarcerated – and his truth of the situation that led him here.

Clay Mabbitt does an amazing job at weaving Rick’s story without forcing a biased slant on the situation. This is a man who sees himself as inherently good but also acknowledges he allowed much of the inhumane treatment to continue, climaxing with their inevitable final solution to the situation.

Millicent Wright as the academic, Gloria, deftly leads him through his tale. Since his lawyer prevented him from defending himself or even speaking at his trial, she wants to help him get his story out in his own words so that he can finally be heard.

Again, the story presented here is fictional, but it contains so many references to actual historical events and situations that it feels just a bit too real. In fact, we found it hard to believe it was written in 2016, and not this year.

This is the first play for the newly-founded Fonseca Theatre Company, established by a group of central Indiana artistic people led by the company’s namesake – and this play’s director – Bryan Fonseca. Like his past work establishing the Phoenix Theatre, this is the first of a planned season (and seasons to come) of thought-provoking, important theatre on West Michigan Street.

Aside from helping create an enduring arts scene in the near-westside of Indy, FTC’s mission is to embrace and celebrate diversity in all its diverse forms. As one can guess from the present-day setting and the play’s title, its inspiration comes from the President’s promise, and the continued heated debate, regarding immigration and immigrants. What does a play with a black woman and a white man have to do with this? In “Building the Wall,” it is not Latinx people who have to justify what they’re doing or explain how they got where they are.

In the end, this is everybody’s problem.

Performances are Fridays through Sundays, through Oct. 7, at FTC’s temporary home, Indy Convergence, 2611 W. Michigan. See www.fonsecatheatre.org for details and tickets.

(John Lyle Belden also contributed to this review.)

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IndyFringe: ‘Aphrodite’s Refugees’

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

It’s hard to not hear the word “refugees” in the news today. It’s bandied about on an almost daily basis. This tends to numb us to the meaning and situations that cause people to succumb to this status.

When show creator Monica Dionysiou witnessed an exhibit by Doctors Without Borders in her hometown of Boulder, Col., she felt inspired to revisit her family’s stories of their own struggles during the many battles for dominance on their home island of Cypress, and how they came to America in the first place.

You can now witness the beauty, tragedy, and resilience of these people in her stunning offering, “Aphrodite’s Refugees.”

She artfully weaves the history of the island as well as its struggles for independence from the various countries warring over it. (Cypress is located in the Mediterranean near Greece and Turkey, which both have claims.) The stories begin with recordings of her family in their own words which are then interpreted by her and her partner to show the changes in the landscape of the island throughout the years.

Dionysiou’s partner, Aaron Young, literally illustrates the struggle by painting the backdrop of the ever-changing landscape of her homeland. He also illuminates important points of the story with further drawings and animations to enhance the drama. Plus, the finished landscape is available for sale at the end of each performance so you can acquire a spectacular original piece of artwork to help you remember these bittersweet tales for long afterward.

We also find out the connection to the Greek goddess of the title. She is the deity of love — but, alas, her brother is Aries, God of War, and in their immortal games he’s holding the cards.

Performances are today and tomorrow (Aug. 25-26) at 6 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Indyfringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 St. Clair St. (just east of the College and Mass Ave intersection).

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: ‘Roshambo’

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

This is akin to one of those “Afterschool Specials” most of us grew up watching.

It gives us a look into the highly competitive world of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (yes, that’s a thing). Although the sport involved is vastly interchangeable, the character archetypes are pretty basic, and the message is blatantly obvious (It’s just a game and it should be fun), the cast does a respectable job of bringing it all to life.

Some of the characters are absolutely hilarious, such as Andromeda, who is constantly talking about things on “Her planet;” and Nick, the dorky airhead on Team Avalanche — so named because they throw “Rock” a lot).

The show’s biggest flaw is that it only has a 30-minute running time. I would have liked to see another set of scenes with each of our primary characters, as well as a training montage to fill up those missing 20 minutes they had available.

Still, it was a solid effort and a good first showing. Once they get back to Greenwich Academy, they can workshop this show a bit more and bring it back as a hit for next year’s Fringe.

Performances are at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 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: ‘Hers is the Head of a Wolf’

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

First of all, let me tell you that this show is about Schizophrenia. It’s initial scene makes that unclear and there is the ambiguity of the situation where it could be about something else (read: lycanthropy). Now that you know this, lets talk about the show.

This show is powerful and amazing. It does a great job of giving insight to the real struggle of a victim of this disease and those around them who are either trying to help them or just be a part of their life.

I was especially impressed by the portrayal of Danny, who starts as her tutor and then begins to turn into a boyfriend. His character is not white-washed wholesome nor entirely cut-and-dried sympathetic. He gets angry and loud at times but is tender and concerned at others which is a much more realistic look at how one would be in the real world.

The therapist, Dr. Hamilton, is genuinely concerned and clearly doing his best to help guide his patient through learning to cope with this debilitating disease. However, even at his most earnest, his voice and advice does sound a bit patronizing.

Then of course, there is our heroine(?) Elise. She literally strips herself bare and exposes her fear, vulnerability, and sheer revulsion at her plight. She struggles to overcome her demons (whose voices we eventually hear for ourselves). She didn’t ask to be like this. She doesn’t want to be like this. She just wants to feel safe for once in her life.
What becomes of each of our players is for you to witness and by all means, you really should witness this. Just know that the show is gut-wrenching and can be overwhelming (much like the condition it portrays).
One performance remains, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair, just east of the Mass Ave. and College intersection.