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Showing posts from May, 2018

The Pill

"Womanhood shouldn't always mean motherhood." The line from Tom Horan's new play about the invention of the birth control pill is sure to start some interesting conversations. Horan is the Phoenix Theatre's playwright-in-residence and this is the world premiere of The Pill. The show is performed by an all-female quintet of characters, including the infamous Margaret Sanger.

The play packs a powerful punch and I was left reeling with the realization of just how far we've come. With the invention of birth control, women truly gained control of their own lives. I loved seeing the messiness of the process. Horan doesn't present it as an easy, quick path to success. Instead it's a fight with red-tape issues, funding problems and FDA hoops that must be jumped through. These things aren't exhausting to watch though, because he tempers the hassles with humor, sprinkling in clever lines. It's obviously well-researched, but instead of overwhelming us wit…

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

What do you do when an author dies before his work is finished? You make it into a “choose your own adventure” musical of course! Audience goers get the rare experience of choosing not only the murderer, but also which lovers end up together and who plays the detective in the Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Charles Dickens never had the chance to let readers know how he would’ve wrapped up the novel, but now we can all try our hand at solving the mystery. 
The show is in constant motion with cast members moving set pieces on and off stage to create new scenes. There’s a bar, a dressing room, a brothel, a dinner party, etc. all in the small space the stage allows. It’s an ambitious production with a large cast of local talent. Stephen Hollenbeck’s excellent costumes range from top hats to kimonos and corsets and completes the illusion that we’re seeing a music hall performance in the late 19th century. Paul Collier Hansen performs my favorite number …

Noises Off

Indiana Repertory Theatre closes its season with a bang, or rather the slamming of many doors, in Noises Off. I’ll admit that farces don’t tend to tickle my funny bone, but this one is an exception to the rule. It rises above the general stereotype of mistaken identities and slapstick (though there is plenty of both) by adding another brilliant layer. It is a play within a play, three acts and two intermissions packed with nonstop humor.
In the first act we meet a cast rehearsing a farce called “Nothing On”. This opening gives each character a chance to warm up and establish some basic ticks. The next two acts expertly build on those so that the audience always feels like it’s in on the joke. In the second and third act, the audience watches the matinĂ©e and evening performances unfold. The hilarity lies in the farce that is unfolding behind the scenes as the cast acts out another on the stage. One character describes the situation as “becoming farcical” and the on-the-nose description…