The 2015 IndyFringe Festival ended its Mass Ave. 11 day, eight venue, 64 show comedy, cabaret, dance, drama, magic, music and multimedia extravaganza on Sunday. Though it was impossible to see every show offered on the diverse Fringe menu, this writer did manage to partake of a respectable sampling.
Herein are three reviews (of 11 attended) of productions seen near and at the end of the festival’s run.
This writer unknowingly saved the best for last. As it turns out, and without question, this concert presented by Dance Kaleidoscope company members best represented the finest artistic quality of all those reviewed by atombash.com during the festival.
The concert, seen Sunday, featured the choreographed works of DK dancers. Included in the program was “To Stand on a Moonlit Shore,” by Stuart Coleman; “Silently Seeking Solace,” by Noah Trulock; “Flashes of Light,” by Jillian Goodwin; “Sovereignty,” by Zach Young; “Origin of Love,” by Timothy June; “State of Grace,” by Mariel Greenlee; and “Speak Easy,” by Justin Sears-Watson.
All of the works were beautifully performed by the entire DK company (including each choreographer), save for Brandon Comer who previously sustained an injury and was unable to perform.
Each of the pieces had their own special qualities and each revealed its creators are blessed with fresh choreographic vision and talent. It was no surprise, really, considering that it is not unusual for dancers to excel at choreography and teaching when they retire. And in the case of this accomplished group of young choreographers—as dancers, each of them regularly stand out in DK concerts and it doesn’t hurt that they are influenced by DK artistic director David Hochoy.
Goodwin’s “Flashes of Light,” with music by Sigur Rós Valtari, dramatized one’s life flashing before them at death. Zach Young’s “Sovereignty,” with music by Emmanuel Santarromana/Song-Opera, was left to the audience’s interpretation. The two dramatic works, which were back to back in the concert, were both captivating and deeply affecting.
Greenlee’s “State of Grace,” was introduced as a study of a couple she observed from a window of an establishment on Mass Ave. Greenlee said she watched them engage in a heated, physical argument which ended with the two of them walking off holding each other. The incident was her inspiration for this riveting piece about conflict resolution and a work which was a concert highlight
Sears-Watson introduced his work “Speak Easy,” danced to Buddy Rich’s “Channel One Suite” which concluded the concert, by telling the audience that he wanted the work to express the joy he felt as a dancer. Sears-Watson’s often frenzied, high energy piece, featuring eight dancers dressed in ‘50s era costumes, was exhilarating. And based on the audible response of the delighted TOTS main stage audience, was the concert’s most entertaining.
DK is universally recognized as Indiana’s premier contemporary dance company and by many as one of Indy’s most beloved performing arts organizations. Through this always popular, annual Fringe showcase of its dancers’ choreographic abilities, the exposure it provides them, and an important additional credit on their resumes, DK demonstrates its practical and moral support of its artists’ growth and careers. And for that the company should be highly commended.
“Tipped and Tipsy”
Jill Vice, a San Francisco native and resident, held court Saturday at TOTS Second Stage in her one-woman show titled “Tipped and Tippsy.” Set in a New York City tavern called “Happy’s Bar,” Vice played the main character, the establishment’s bartender, as well as assorted others, including her boss and some regulars.
With the “miracle of alcohol” as its main comic theme and its myriad of jokes about its impact, which in reality is often more tragic than funny, one’s response to the play’s subject matter depends on one’s attitude about alcohol. For the most part, the play is amusing but at the point when the plot shines a light on addiction, it becomes clear that Vice’s play also includes a responsible message about both moderation and abstinence.
For this writer, the script held less interest than Vice’s inviting performance as a skilled actor who has the talent and ability to transform into a variety of characters and do so with nearly seamless transitions. Add to that her talent for physical comedy, split-second timing, proficiency in doing accents and vocal tricks, and Vice’s exceptional performance made for a veritable master class in acting.
“Ulysses Grant: a Fluxkit Opera”
The intent of this comedy by Stephen Rush was to highlight the life and career of Ulysses Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army during the Civil War, through letters he wrote. Seen on Saturday, the play billed as a “cabaret, comedy, performance art” was presented on TOTS Main Stage.
Though the author’s historical research was evident and appeared to be accurate, it is unfortunate that the production’s use of multi-media, which included projected archival images, maps, etc., only served to confuse.
As far as the music performed in the production, which included authentic Civil War era songs, the brass instruments and percussion played only served to overpower the show’s singing and dialogue which could barely be heard.
Audience participation, which involved members who volunteered prior to curtain to play soldiers on opposing sides of the war in a misguided attempt at illustrating battle scenes, fell miserably short of its intended purpose.
Save for a few exceptions, most notably the show’s only female, Jennifer Goltz, the remainder of the cast turned in performances that were simply not believable at best and painfully amateurish at worst.
It’s really too bad, though, because with more polished performers and experienced direction this vehicle has the potential to become a worthwhile artistic venture.