You-review-it Monday

August 23, 2009
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As you may have noticed from the past two blog posts (here and here), I've been buried in Indy Fringe most of the weekend -- with a side trip to see Sharon McKnight's bawdy song set at the Cabaret.

Did you take in any of the Fringe (there's still plenty of time)? Catch a concert? See a film (my thoughts on "Inglourious Basterds" is tucked at the end of the review here).

Your thoughts?
  • Saw Bastards in Detroit suburbs over the weekend. Without looking at your review yet, I thought it mostly entertaining, classic Quentin, over the top, but sometimes not enough. It was historical fantasy, and I wonder how many of the kids going to the midnight show thought it really happened.

    Brad Pitt and the German bad guy were prime time players, but as for any sense of morality of any kind? It had none. I liked it, and I really hated it. This turned out to be a guy's night out, the girls passed. Went with my best buddy, who is Jewish (yes I know it's a line, but it's true.) He loved it, wanted more Nazi murders and mayhem, but again, I thought it lacking any sense of all! Wasn't that the problem there in the first place?

    That said, and this may be for another time, why in God's name doesn't a major metro area the size of Indy NOT have any theatres with midnight or late-night movies, especially on weekends? The plex we went to was in Grand Blanc, Michigan, more a suburb of Flint than Detroit, and THEY had a full menu of midnight shows. What gives? Are we that much of a roll-up-the-streets town? Other places I've lived, even the likes of Cincy and Columbus, have at least some theatres with late night shows. Just curious, why not here?

    Finally, it IS on to the Fringe this week. Now, I look forward to your take on Bastards, and the buzz on the Fringe Festival.
  • I saw several Fringe shows over the weekend. One of my favorites being Crossing the Bridge. I wasn't sure I was going to like it in the first few minutes, but as it went on I ended up really loving it. I’ll warn you – I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house by the end.

    Phi Alpa Gamma was another really excellent show. This is the same guy that did Thanks for the Scabies Jerkface a couple years ago. This show is completely, and I can’t stress that enough, completely different. It was really thought provoking and he did a great job of playing several different roles. The one problem with this show was the venue – people from the street kept opening the door to come in setting off the door chime and some people opened the door while talking VERY loudly. It was really distracting to this very serious show. I hope for other shows they can do a better job of patrolling that door and not allowing it to open during ANY performance.

    Cool Table was funny but a friend that had seen their show last year said at least one of the sketches was exactly the same. It was enjoyable and if you want to laugh this is the one to see.

    Tortillo another funny one which reminded me of Office Space mixed with Scooby Doo elements. My favorite part was the appearance of the janitor.

    That’s it so far but I’m going back this week for more!
  • Saw Phi Alpha Gamma Saturday afternoon, and totally agree about the venue. A buzzer on the door went off every single time someone opened it (which was frequently), the Fringe volunteers talked to each other during the performance, and near the end, ComedySportz employees conducted a loud whispered conversation in the kitchen. I ran into Mr. Bernitt on the street later and felt like apologizing to him on their behalf.

    Other than that, Black Bonnet is absolutely charming (technical difficulties prevented us from seeing the short film), Wanda and Rhonda was a fun late-night trifle (although the performers could work on tightening up their delivery), and Mr. Charles, for my group at least, was a disaster, overperformed to the point of incoherence.

    Can't wait to see more.
  • Man! what a busy weekend. Friday night I had time to get to 1 Fringe Play - Wanda and Rhonda's Bitchin' Bingo Bash at Comedy Sportz. Sisters Wanda and Rhonda host a bingo game for the audience and they chit-chat through out about stuff which you might expect to hear in an old time beauty salon (or so my mother told me). On this night they seemed to mostly click although at points I thought one of the 2 actors might have forgotten a line or 2. It was humerous with some interspersed hearty laughs and at point they seemed to forget we were really playing bingo. Once there was a bingo, the play ended. I assume they have material to cover if it takes a while for a bingo (unless they are using marked bingo balls - now there's a concept) and don't know if it just stops if there is an early bingo.

    A major highlight to my Friday night was bumping into frequent AE commentor and theater reviewer Hope Baugh (literally). She's a very delightful person and I'm glad to have had the chance to finally meet her.

    Saturday I spent grilling at the First Annual Indy Eggfest. The Big Green Egg is an expensive but well worth the money grill. About 750 people showed up at Sullivan's Hardware to taste the 15-20 grillers' chicken, pork, beef, etc. and excellent beer from Sun King Brewery (shameless plug for my friend Clay). Sullivan's and Chef JJ's Backyard cosponsored this first event.

    Sunday we caught 2 Fringe plays. First up was Phil Van Hest's Phil the Void: The Great Brain Robbery. Phil has become a regular performer at the Fringe. His style of stand-up comedy and commentary will make you think. This year he covered social media, email, health care, politics, PETA, burping in public, saying You're Welcome instead of excuse me, and more. Funny but thought provoking at the same time. Word of warning: he does some serious stuff and that is ok by me.

    Our final play of the evening was The Cool Table's series of short comedic sketches, also at Comedy Sportz. Like SNL or Mad TV, some hit and some missed. Overall on this night they hit on most of them. The show is different for each performance so only a few of the sketches, if any, may be repeated during the Festival. My favorite was their takeoff on the MTV show The Hill with ice fishermen getting personal instead of a room full of girls (I've never seen it so this is based on a comment from my daughter).

    There are many more plays to come this week and I can't wait!
  • Saw Kathy Griffin's second show of the evening at the Murat Saturday. She never disappoints. Her act, definitely for mature audiences, was as funny as her previous appearances there and a large, enthusiastic and appreciative crowd was in the house. Celebrities beware, Kathy is out to point out your foibles!
  • Andy, it was a pleasure to meet you, too, even if it was while we were crammed into the lobby of ComedySportz during a brief but heavy rain. I loved sitting with both you and Lorriane for the Wanda and Rhonda show, too.

    I have posted some quick notes about some of the Fringe shows I have seen so far on my own blog, and I will write about the rest there tomorrow, so I'll just say even more quickly here:

    Crossing the Bridge was a truly cathartic theatre/dance experience that had me weeping in my seat for most of the last third, but which left me feeling uplifted when the house lights came back up. It's about death, and so of course there is sadness in it, but it is not a downer. I loved the complete absence of cliche'd material in it, too - either verbal or in terms of movement.

    By the way, the group is based in Los Angeles but the writer/director grew up here in Anderson. I met her mom.

    I saw Blunder Construction twice last year and on Sunday afternoon this year. I disagree with you, Lou: I think his show is very different this year because he talks all the way through it. Last year it was all mimed. I agree with you that some of his wow juggling tricks are the same, but they still wow'd me all over again. And because his humor works on all levels and he doesn't make fun of anyone (or only in a very gentle way) McCoy's show is still the only Fringe show that I feel comfortable suggesting to ANYONE.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Oh, sorry: I probably should have put some of that comment on your Fringe 3 post. Oops!

  • Hope,
    Blunder Construction has certainly evolved in a more verbal direction. But, for me, that didn't make it a new show.
    As I said, it's wonderful stuff. I just want to see something besides the light bulb structure next year.

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