You-review-it Monday

February 1, 2009
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Yes, there was the amazing football game. But, for me, the weekend also included LA TheatreWorks' production of "The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial" at Clowes and InterAction Theatre's "Durang-o-Rama" at the IndyFringe space.

While well acted, "Monkey Trial" fell between two stools. At its home base, LA TheatreWorks productions are stripped down to just actors, mics, chairs and a sound-effects artist and part of the pleasure is seeing and hearing the actors in this minimalist format.

Here, the semi-staged courtroom, with mics pointing every which way, felt cluttered. The foley artist had little to do and was hidden in the back and there was less of a radio show feel and more of a mid-way-through-rehearsals vibe. An audience member would be justified in wondering why they didn't just memorize the script and go off book.

The script itself was smart and insightful. Taken from the actual transcripts of the Scopes trial and its surrounding documents, the piece was particularly interesting to those very familiar with the fictionalized take on the story in "Inherit the Wind." The closing moments of the first act were particularly compelling. Still, I'm wondering if the broadcast of the show on WFYI was actually more impactful.  

I'm hoping LATW pays a return visit in any form--solid actors with good material are always welcome. But "Monkey Trial" didn't represent the company at its best.

(FYI: I had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A session with the acting company after the show. Kudos to the Indy audience for not asking Ed Asner to say his signature Lou Grant line "I hate spunk.") 

More on the Durang one-acts later--either here or in the print edition of IBJ. (If you are just joining us, you can find past reviews, the latest IBJ Daily A&E preview e-mail, and more at www.ibj.com/arts.)

So what did you get to this weekend?
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  • We caught The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial at Clowes. Perhaps it was due to my long week and how tired I was but I found the production to be slow. It was however a pleasure to see some great actors on stage and the productiion was fodder for some great discussion on the drive home.

    I did find most disconcerting the lack of respect of audience members around us in the terrace. Taking pictures during the show (with a flash) AFTER being instructed QUITE CLEARLY not to do so in the recorded curtain speach. The offending party just waved the usher off when asked to refrain from doing so as though to say, Who do you think you are, that you can ask me not to take pictures?

    This same party brought children under the age of 7 this very wordy production - what were they thinking?

    Others in our immediate area tapped their feet incessently, unzipped and zipped up a purse, opened candy and talked back and forth.

    Amazing!

    On Sunday we visited the Home Show at the Fairgrounds. Among the many guttering, siding, window and wow, can you believe this cuts up cucumbers so quickly places there is also a lovely art and wine area. I wish I had found it earlier, I would have spent more time there, but we'd walked everything else before discovering it and were worn down. It's just off to the side of the South Pavillion if you're going and want to find it earlier in your visit. :)

    Oh, and watched some Superbowl. Good game! I've been voting daily for the Doritos commercial from the local guys to win - so I'm happy for them that they did!
  • Friday night, Herron School of Art & Design hosted an opening reception following a lecture by Jason Hackenwerth. Cochleapod is a wonderfully fantastic sample of Jason Hackenwerth's balloon sculpture installation. Tuesday at noon, will feature a lecture by David Bowen, the other half of the exhibit. His kinetic works, include Swarm, live houseflies that generate movement of a roaming device.

    There were odd, yet yummy, choices served for appetizers and a coffee bar!

    Bona Thompson Memorial Center, in Irvington, is hosting Casserole a photography group show. Andy Chen's shots in the desert of Utah, are emotionally charged with nature's inspiration.

    Going with the theme, were a variety of casseroles and salads!

    Indianapolis Art Center, Reuse/Reorder, opened with an eclectic array of artwork from regional artists using recycled objects. Hot finger food, with spicy choice dips! Delicious!

    Saturday was the kick-off of Art & Soul at the Artsgarden, including music, dance, food and a variety artwork. Art & Soul is an annual, month-long celebration of African-American Art and Artists in Indiana.

    Later that afternoon, I was very pleased with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra performance at the Walker Theatre. Newly sponsored by ISO, this ensemble is directed by Betty Perry. Performers are from diverse communities including students from Elementary, Middle, and High school, as well as parent players.

    So many treats for the senses this weekend! I couldn’t help but admire the self control, and artistry of #10 in the final play! SWEET!
  • I saw two good shows, hung out at a bookstore one night just perusing the new fiction, celebrated a birthday, and worked a lot at my day job.

    I'll write about the shows on my own blog eventually but here are the short versions of my reviews:

    To Kill a Mockingbird at the IRT: Thought-provoking...and as much a fresh story about honesty as it is a classic story about racism.

    Enchanted April at Indy Civic: Romantic and literary.

    Hope Baugh - www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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