Skip to main content

Posts

Elizabeth Rex

  The finale of this year’s bard fest is Elizabeth Rex, a play based on the true story of the execution of the Earl of Essex, the Queen’s lover, for treason. This fictionalized account takes us into a barn holding Shakespeare and his players on the eve of the execution. They receive a visit from the Queen on this pivotal night in her rule. It’s a regional premiere production and an absolute coup for the Bard Fest and a testament to how the event has grown over the years. The scale of the production reaches new heights on every level. This is also the first time they have produced in the Theater at the Fort in Lawrence. It’s a beautiful space, and the set includes a two-tiered barn with lanterns and candles setting the mood. The story explores the delicate balance Shakespeare had to find between writing powerful stories and not offending the Queen. It also debates the societal expectations placed on a ruler who was a woman in a traditionally male position of leadership. Glenn Dobbs’ dir
Recent posts

The Book Club Play

  Add together one book club, six members, six meetings, and what do you get? The answer is a lot of drama with a big dose of farcical fun. The Book Club Play is a fast-paced look at one group’s love of reading and how it shapes their lives. From Moby Dick to Twilight, the club tackles reads that shine an unexpected light on issues in their own lives.   The plot explores ideas of culture vs popularity. What makes a book a classic? What makes you a snob or a plebian? As a bibliophile, I loved seeing how expectations and preconceived ideas about books can shape your experience with them. I love the text scrolling over the set between scenes. The characters felt a bit one-note at times. There was a Type-A controlling leader, a frazzled introvert, and a confused jock. I would have loved a bit more character depth as the play progressed. Instead, I felt like they leaned into the stereotypes. The strength of the show lies in playwright Karen Zacarías’ ability to pull in the audience and ca

Bard Fest 2021

Mark your calendars! The dates and locations of this year's Bard Fest have been announced. The annual festival brings together multiple theatre companies and this year, multiple locations, to present Shakespeare's work.  The Shakespeare festival is returning to the IndyFringe Basile Theatre and expanding to The Cat Theatre in Carmel and The Theatre at the Fort in Lawrence. It will include all new original productions of Measure for Measure, Antony and Cleopatra, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and  Macbeth. It will also feature two additional productions of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? and the award-winning Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley. The shows, produced by Bard Fest,  will continue to bring the region’s finest actors to Indianapolis and provide unique visions of the Bard of Avon along with modern classical contemporaries. Bard Fest was first conceived by Glenn Dobbs in the spring of 2015. Launching with an admittedly “overly ambitious” schedule of eight product

AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE: Cymbeline and A Phoenix Too Frequent

  To return to the American Players Theatre after the pandemic hiatus is magical. All the elements that we’ve missed for the past year are waiting for audiences at the top of the hill. Cymbeline The theatre’s production of Cymbeline is a revelation. The all-female cast flips the tone from oppressive misogyny to tongue-in-cheek barbs and iconic strength. What originates as a story about the value of women based on their chastity and rooted in the mistrust of Imogen’s word over an almost stranger’s transforms into a story of her carving out her own life. The core of that strength always existed in Shakespeare’s words, but the show is often played with Imogen acting only as a casualty of circumstance, a path to her husband Posthumus’ fall and redemption. In director Marti Lyon’s hands and Melisa Pereyra’s barely-contained rage, Imogen has a chance to rise above the role of victim. Cymbeline has always been a fascinating show because unlike Othello and other popular Bard plays, the charact

Smart People

Monument Theatre Company’s new production, Smart People, encapsulates the group’s mission to deliver socially relevant theatre. A group of four people watches as their racial divides rise to the surface when their paths cross. Each character lives within the bounds of their specific worldview and their assumptions cause conflict and misunderstanding in every interaction. Jackson is a surgeon played by Jamaal McCray with a balance of righteous indignation and charm. He has a tendency to self-sabotage his own career when his frustrations get the better of him. Maverick Schmit’s neuro-psychiatrist Brian treats condescension like an art form. It drips from his voice in every self-satisfied lecture. He is a liberal who is so proud of his progressive views that he can’t see his own flaws. Kim Egan, fresh off her turn as Hermia in last week's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Indy Shakes, is Ginny Yang, a brilliant psychologist whose patients are struggling with identity issues rooted

Cyrano

 Don’t let the comically large nose fool you, this one is a heartbreaker. The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s minimalist production of the classic Cyrano features just three actors. It’s a quiet romance about Cyrano (Ryan Artzberger) and his unspoken love for Roxane. There are a few sword fights, coordinated by Jeb Burris who pulls double duty playing six different characters in the show. Jo Roets’ adaptation clocks in at just 1 hour and 20 minutes, with no intermission. Melisa Pereyra truly shines as Roxane. Despite the hurdles of a virtual viewing, her passion, fear, and grief radiate off the screen. Her real-life spouse, Jeb Burris, makes for a convincing partner in their scenes together. Linda Pisano's lovely work on costume design allows believability as Burris navigates between all of his roles. Russell Metheny’s set design is functional but sparse, lacking the usual detail of an IRT production.  A note on the streaming experience. The show is $30 and you have a week to watch it.

NO. 6

In 2001 an unarmed black man was killed by a Cincinnati police officer. A peaceful protest turned dangerous in the following days as the city erupted into riots. If that sounds a bit too familiar to you, you aren’t alone. The subject matter is achingly relevant. In the midst of the chaos, a small family hunkers down in their home above their dry-cleaning business. When the son, Felix, returns home with a drunk white man in tow the tension boils over. The dialogue between the mother and her twin children feels real and quickly pulls you into their comfortable family dynamic. There were quite a few stumbles over lines in this production, which can take you out of the flow of the play, but it wasn’t too distracting. It’s only worth noting because, unlike live theatre performances, a recorded production will not change from night to night.  Truths are revealed as the riots rage on and important issues are addressed. Hearing about the black experience, the unavoidable hurdles they face in