The Indiana Repertory Theatre always seems to be doing something new and this year's Going Solo festival is no exception. The IRT selected three unique one-man shows and is presenting them on its Upperstage. These intimate shows allow the audience to feel like they are having a one-on-one conversation with the actors.
"The Year of Magical Thinking" stars Fontaine Syer in her IRT debut. The show is an ode to grief and one woman's journey through it. Author Joan Didion wrote the book of the same name after her husband suddenly died as they were sitting down to dinner. So many of us have struggled with loss, but Didion gives a voice to our pain. The loss of control and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness are undeniable.
Syer is excellent in the role of Didion. Her voice is tinged with an icy bitterness, bred by the isolation her loss created. She rejects the death, bargains and reminisces through her anguish, while the audiences raptly watches. It is an unflinching look at dealing with death and its powerful impact left me reeling.
"After Paul McCartney" is the ying to Magical Thinking's yang. It's all energy and optimism. Two middle-aged best friends set out on a mission to meet their hero, Paul McCartney. The show is set in 1989 and is a celebration of friendship and the power of art.
Rob Johansen plays Philip, and a few other characters, in this whirlwind piece. He is an average man who becomes extraordinary because of his love of the Beatles and his devotion as a friend. Whether he is lighting a fictional cigarette or dancing in a club, Johansen is masterful. His charisma and magnetic energy pulls the audience in and doesn't let them go until the final bow.
The third show, "Pretty Fire," is an autobiographical tale about growing up black in America. The IRT has added shows because it has been so popular. It stars Milicent Wright and I've heard it's wonderful.
Because the shows are shown back-to-back, the set needs to accommodate all three very different plays. They chose simplicity, which lets the actors work shine. There are few props and allowing the acting to speak for itself. "After Paul McCartney" has some adult language and all three shows have adult themes.
Don't Miss the Show
Performances: "Pretty Fire" is one stage until March 21, "The Year of Magical Thinking" runs until March 7 and "After Paul McCartney" runs until March 14 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.
Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $44 with discounts available for students and seniors.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.
Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre