Know No Stranger
Wed. May 26
The stage of Central Library’s Clowes Auditorium was set with a pile of blankets on the floor topped with a Ninja Turtles pillowcase, a cardboard television, and some beat-up living room furniture. It really didn’t look too different from some college apartments. This ordinary flair made perfect sense for the presentation of Mundanities, a free musical presented by Indy’s newest theater troupe and artists collective, Know No Stranger.
Mundanities is the journey of a young man struggling to discover the secret of writing a killer track for his band. The show was billed as a musical, with a KNS twist.
Maybe the twist came from the giant overhead projector screens, fabricated from what looked like white bed sheets sewn together. Spanning half the stage and slightly taller than the actors, the screens displayed hand-drawn transparencies that became moving sets. Picture cut-outs created appearances from Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Michael Beethoven, Ludwig’s less talented brother.
Or perhaps the twist came from the musical numbers. From the opening notes, strummed on a banjo, the songs carried the feel of a jam session with friends. The subjects of the songs are appropriately mundane. “Socks” contemplated the woes of going out in the rain when you really that Sum41 CD from your car, but can’t find your shoes (No one needs a Sum41 CD that badly). “Name Game” recalled the discomfort of coming across someone you know, but can’t remember who they are. All relatable, all hilarious.
As the show progressed, more musicians—more friends—joined the band, culminating in the finale, “Just Be Yourself,” with the whole cast moving into the aisles, leading the audience in a sing-along. The song’s message is corny advice we’ve all heard, but it’s also the kind of advice that never gets old when offered by a close friend.
So, maybe that’s the KNS twist. Mudanities wasn’t pretending to be high art, because that’s not what KNS is about. The show, and maybe KNS at large, is about doing what you know, doing what you love, and having fun while doing it. Even when a joke fell flat or an actor forgot a line, things kept moving with a laid back enthusiasm.
In the May 19 issue of NUVO, Michael Runge, founder of KNS was quoted, “The idea behind Know No Stranger is that everybody’s a friend, and anyone can do this—something positive for the community.”
With all the charm of your best friend’s garage band or your younger brother’s video blog, for its brief performance, Mundanities seemed to bring the audience together, as if we were all eating chips and salsa, playing Scrabble together.