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Welcome to the Monkey House

Eight stories woven into one show. Seven cast members, each taking on a handful of characters. It all adds up to a wonderful night at the theater and a bittersweet way to honor the death of an incredibly gifted man.

ShadowApe Theatre Company is an Indianapolis based theater company that offers a new show each year. This year's selection is "Welcome to the Monkey House," an original adaptation of some short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. The production was created by ShadowApe as part of Indianapolis' "Year of Vonnegut." It is currently at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre; where many of ShadowApe's members are regular performers.

The second patrons enter the theater they see a stage set with a simple blue sky background. Suspended in that sea of clouds are ten shelves covered with books and audience members know they've entered one of Vonnegut's Twilight Zone universes.

The show would not work so flawlessly without its talented cast. The four man and three woman cast works together like a well-oiled machine. No one steals the spotlight from another, instead they each shine brilliantly in their own right.

The show contains, among other things, a love story, a human game of chess, and the birth of a child. The element that shines through all of these stories is Vonnegut's distinct voice and rare ability to critic society while at the same time rejoicing in the simple beauty of life. Therein lies the immortal genius that will continue to entice new generations of readers to his work despite his death this year.

Vonnegut's dry, satiric style will be missed by all who loved his work, but productions like this will continue to keep his voice alive.

Performances: "Welcome to the Monkey House" closed Aug. 19, 2007.