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Indy Fringe / Festivals / Theater

IndyFringe, the final chapter

August 31, 2009

On the final night of IndyFringe, my battered festival program revealed a handful of shows that time had run out on a few shows that I regret missing.

I regret not experiencing "New Vaudeville," curious about what I missed by not seeing "Waiting for M'Godot," and still wondering about "Crossing the Bridge" and "murder, hope." I take some consolation in knowing that I will see locals Kenyetta Dance Company (creators of "Groundworks Suites) and Motus Dance Theatre ("Broken Fragile Mind") in future productions. But how could I get through the Fringe without seeing Ron Spencer as Mr. Charles? Shame on me.

On the final night, Sunday the 30th, I did get to what turned out to be an Edgar Allan Poe double feature. In the first piece, "Nevermore," the troubled writer was turned into a therapist for a suicidal writer. Long chunks of Wikipedia-like biographical stretches and random blackout lighting did little to pad out a thin premise -- which was oddly similiar to that of the bad play-within-a-play discussed in another Fringe entry, "The Worst Show in the Fringe." (In that one, a writer gets an e-mail connection with Shakespeare. If played for laughs, that imaginary play would, I think, have been more engaging than either "Worst Show" or "Nevermore.")

There were amusing moments in "Nevermore" where Poe talked about his visits to other death-minded writers, from Sylvia Plath to Jim Morrison. And both performers committed strongly to their roles. But the unnamed main character seemed like little more than an ineffective and very familiar tortured-artist literary device intruding on what could have been a potentially interesting, irreverent one-man Poe show.

Next door, on the Theatre on the Square mainstage, composer Paul Geraci presented his on-eact opera "The Cask of Amontillado." Well sung by leads Todd Samra and Joseph Clarence Stewart, the piece proved a promising but ultimately unfulfilling snippet of what could be a bigger Poe piece.

Geraci's tunes -- more Frank Wildhorn or Maury Yeston than grand opera -- were varied and his lyrics fell neatly on the music, but his choice of story left no room for suspense or climax. And the flat lighting -- a curse of Fringe shows -- negatively impacted the atmosphere. Still, Geraci, in his first opera, proved himself a talent worth watching.

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