This isn't normally the way I do things, but the squirm-inducing, out-of-town improvisational troupe that I saw perform last night at Indy Fringe hit the wall so hard that I'm not even going to name the group or the show.
Rather than replay their overcrowded flop-sweat antics at fairly basic impro games, I'd rather talk about the show I saw next.
That show, No Exit's "I am Peter Pan," is a Fringe hit that deserves the crowds its drawing.
The format will seem wildly original to some, familiar to others (especially those who saw the Phoenix Theatre's production of "Shipwrecked"). It's character-based storytelling using simply props and the audience's imagination. Unlike the Broadway show "Peter and the Starcatcher," which also includes creative props in lieu of special effects, "I am Peter Pan" isn't an origin story for the boy who didn't grow up. Instead, it concerns a young boy wrestling with his father's illness by going on imagined adventures to Neverland.
Directed and devised by Butler grad Michael Burke and anchored by a sweet, joyful and sad tour-de-force performance by Ryan Mullins, the show begins charmingly, offers a relentlessly smile-inducing first half, hits some dramaturgical snags (losing some focus in the Tiger Lily and magic pill sequences) but ends with raw emotional power–and a very neat device for having a two-character confrontation with only one actor in the room. I'm not convinced all of the elements quite fit together, but I laughed. I cried. and my anticipation for more No Exit productions increased dramatically.
"I am Peter Pan" has two more Fringe performances. Good luck getting in.
And No Exit has a full-slate of shows coming up, including a September production of the play "Closer," and Burke's production of "MacBeth" later in the season.