The Indiana Repertory Theatre's Going Solo Festival is back for the third year. The festival features three separate one-man shows and gives audiences a chance to compare an contrast some fascinating plays. Each one is 90 minutes with no intermission and highlights one of the IRT's regular performers.
The festival includes a world premier by playwright-in-residence James Still. The show, "I Love to Eat: Cooking with James Beard," introduces us to the host of America's first cooking show. The exuberant chef is played by Robert Neal. His passion for life is contagious and in only a few moments the audience is swept away as he bounces from one side of the stage to the other, guffawing as he goes. Each moment is filled with emotion; the brief flashes of anger or sadness are just as intense as the joy.
Beard is shown as a man who embraced every aspect of life, food music, friendship, language, etc. The portly cook is incredibly alive, bubbling over with his enthusiasm for fresh ingredients and foreign cities. This is the most jubilant performance I've ever seen Neal give and he nails the larger-than-life man.
James Still manages to not only entertain the audience with his quick dialogue, but to capture their hearts as well. After spending only 90 minutes with Beard's effusive personality you can't help but want to learn more about the man behind the food. One-man shows are difficult beasts because they must pair a wonderful play with a talented performer who is well-cast. This show is a great example of what happens when those factors perfectly align.
"Lost: A Memoir" has a darker atmosphere. Cathy, a mother, wife and life-long traveler, searches for her younger brother who is lost at sea. Her journey is one of frustration and grief. She's struggling to find balance in her own life and this latest disaster has set things spiraling out of control. A loss with no closure makes it difficult to move on and let go of the past.
Constance Macy juggles a dozen accents as she portrays not only Cathy, but everyone else she meets on her journeys. With no other actors to bounce dialogue off of, Macy carries the show on her elegant shoulders.
Macy's performance is a beautiful one, but the show itself is harder to connect to. It starts slowly and never quite hits an even stride. It's a touching story, but one that leaves you feeling like Cathy is the one who is truly lost.
The third show, "Nobody Don't Like Yogi," stars Mark Goetzinger. I was unable to make it to a performance, but knowing Goetzinger's work at the IRT, I'm sure audiences won't be disappointed.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. The Going Solo festival runs until Sunday, Oct. 23 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Lost images by Zach Rosing and I Love to Eat images by Julie Curry.