Nine Can’t-Miss 2014 IndyFringe Performances

The shows you just have to see, from the silly or sassy to the serious, plus a few honorable-mention crowd favorites.

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Bike races, puppets, dead presidents, and a closet full of anti-Semitic squirrels? Four full days of IndyFringe Festival includes more comedy, theater, and performance art than most individuals will see in a year. With another week remaining for the 10th edition of IndyFringe and more than 60 shows to choose from, we’re highlighting some of this year’s hidden gems along with those that live up to their hype:

Jen/Con

Jen ConJust in time for Gen Con to take over downtown Indy, this topical comedy penned by local playwright Bennett Ayres mixes fantasy with reality in a story that’s charming and clever. Con (played by Constance Macy) is a tired and lonely bookstore clerk who comes home once again to her loser boyfriend (Rob Johansen) as he has just purchased a new character—sorry, emblem—for his online fantasy game. Jenaveve (Jen Johansen) is the emblem in the game. Con’s and Jen’s lives run parallel to one another in a well-crafted journey of humor and resolution.

Tip: If you’re impressed by this acting troupe, you can usually catch them in shows at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

When you can see it: Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 23, 4:30 p.m.; and Aug. 24, 6 p.m.

Where you can see it: Phoenix Theatre main stage

The Fat Kid Chronicles

Fat Kid ChroniclesThe fourth wall is nonexistent in local comedian Eryn Bowser’s one-woman display of raw, personal humor and emotional monologue. Compared to similar Fringe shows that often garner peppered laughs, Bowser’s hilarious take on growing up as an overweight girl plays to constant laughter. You’ll experience cringe humor and memorable stories in this original piece aided by audio clips of men and women discussing the insecurities they have with their own bodies.

Tip: Who you go with matters. Bring someone with a good sense of humor who will add to your experience.

When you can see it: Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 22, 6 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 6 p.m.

Where you can see it: ComedySportz

Not A Destination

Not A DestinationAt Fringe you’ll find a variety of shows featuring one man, one microphone, and a Rolodex of stories and reflections. While many of these one-man shows are worth checking out, we highly recommend Jeremy Schaefer’s captivating tales of life and travel. His series of funny, heartwarming stories speaks to the adventurous spirit in all of us. What sets Not A Destination apart from the rest is Schaefer: He’s the guy you hope to sit next to on a long flight.

Tip: If you enjoyed Not A Destination, you might also like Lou Ann Homan’s Hoosier Roots, also playing here.

When you can see it: Aug. 18, 9 p.m.; Aug. 22, 10:30 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Where you can see it: Phoenix Basile Theatre

Professor Nakamoto’s Nexus of Numbers

Profess Nakamoto's Nexus of NumbersThis is not your typical magic show. Professor Nakamoto has traveled from Colorado to blow your mind using “simple” patterns, numbers, and feats of memorization. Prepare for an engaging performance that will work your mind. Professor Nakamoto’s Nexus of Numbers is both impressive and interactive. Come ready to participate (intimate venue and relatively small audience) as the Professor opens your mind to the magic and “patterns all around us.”

Tip: Unless your mind operates better after a few drinks, hit the beer tent after this show.

When you can see it: Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 22, 10:30 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Where you can see it: IndyFringe Basile Theatre


New Voices

new voicesDance Kaleidoscope returns to Fringe, and this time the dancers have choreographed the pieces on their own. You don’t have to be a dance enthusiast to benefit from these soul-stirring performances. Prior to each piece, the choreographer introduces and gives context to the work. Prepare for a variety of modern-dance performances that range from light and jovial to deep and thoughtful. “Electric Fences,” an undeniably moving piece choreographed by Stuart Coleman, left many audience members in tears.

Tip: Don’t be late or you’ll miss the first—and arguably one of the best—pieces, choreographed by Justin Sears-Watson.

When you can see it: Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 23, 1:30 p.m.; and Aug. 24, 6 p.m.

Where you can see it: Theatre on the Square

Indiana! The Hoosiercal Musical

IndianaAHoosericalMusicalLocal legend Three Dollar Bill Comedy is back with a musical worthy of the hype. Knowing it was the first sold-out show at Fringe, we entered with high hopes, and those expectations were exceeded within the first 30 seconds of song. It’s an hourlong, hysterical inside joke for Indiana residents as Will Pfaffenberger, Claire Wilcher, Jeff Clawson, Matt Kramer and Todd Kenworthy poke fun at everything from former President Benjamin Harrison to meth, “our State Recreational Drug.” Like any inside joke, it may only be this funny to the natives. For Hoosiers, It’s a must-see, sidesplitting experience.

Tip: Reserve tickets now. This show sells out fast.

When you can see it: Aug. 19, 9 p.m.; Aug. 21, 6 p.m.; Aug. 23, 9 p.m.; and Aug. 24, 3 p.m.

Where you can see it: Phoenix Theatre main stage

ANTS

ANTSANTS is edgy, highly sexual, and one of the more novel shows at Fringe. Featuring four actors ranting and conversing irreverent thoughts on sexuality and gender, local writer Sharla Steiman’s marvelous script offers raw observations and quick humor. This production holds a mirror to society’s longstanding sex and gender roles and forces us to question them. The themes are adult, but this is one performance that will leave you thinking.

Tip: Don’t bring the kids, and enter with an open mind.

When you can see it: Aug. 18, 6 p.m.; Aug. 21, 9 p.m.; Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 6 p.m.

Where you can see it: IndyFringe Basile Theatre

Live On Air with Poet Laureate Telia Nevile

live_on_air_with_poet_laureateFor her first performance in the United States, brilliant Australian Telia Nevile brings an outstanding character comedy that’s a surprise crowd favorite at this year’s Fringe. Expect quick wit and remarkable modern poetry as the suburban-residing Poet Laureate (self-named) guides you through music, laughter, and romantic rage. Lovers of The West Wing will also enjoy a bit of erotic fan fiction.

Tips: Reserve tickets early. Live On Air takes place in a smaller venue, and word of mouth is quickly spreading.

When you can watch it: Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 21, 6 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m.

Where you can watch it: Theatre on the Square, stage II

The Great Bike Race

great bike raceQuirky and fun, The Great Bike Race is (very loosely) based on the 1904 Tour de France, which was apparently rattled with cheating, rivalry, and sabotage. Writer/director Zach Neiditch has created a clever experience, and the ensemble’s chemistry is contagiously entertaining. Paige Scott as Hippolyte Acoutrier is hilariously animated. The Great Bike Race is one of the best original comedy performances at Fringe this year.

Tip: If you feel you’ve seen one too many dark, emotional performances, take the time to see this, as its lighter content excites and makes you laugh.

When you can see it: Aug. 20, 9 p.m.; Aug. 21, 6 p.m.; Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.; and Aug. 23, 4:30 p.m.

Honorable Mentions:

The nine must-see recommendations are based on the 17 shows we could attend in four days. Here are five shows we haven’t yet seen that appear to be crowd favorites:

My Name Is _____
7(x1) Samurai
Burnt at the Steak
Lou Sanz—Neverending Storage
Star Luck Cafe

 

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