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Review: DivaFest 2013 at IndyFringe Theatre

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Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, the star of Marilyn Monroe, Communist.
  • Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, the star of Marilyn Monroe, Communist.

Marilyn Monroe, Communist
by Melissa Nussbaum Freeman

3.5 stars
In a one-woman show, Massachusetts playwright Freeman recites the joys and woes of growing up a "red diaper baby," paying tribute to both her own family and cultural icons like Monroe. It's a little stilted at first, but Freeman proves herself a deft performer, giving distinct life to each of her personalities through artful (and artfully repetitive) stage movements that signify each character. Freeman's moving, personal performance will resonate in particular with audiences who lived through the era. - Katelyn Coyne

Invitations
by Sharla Steiman

2.5 stars
Fringers will recall high school playwright Sharla Steiman - a senior at University High School, not Carmel High School as we misstated last week - from previous Fringe festivals. With her DivaFest debut she depicts four households and eight people in a voyeuristic production that brings to bear biases you might find in an average American community. The script's strength comes in the way that it sharply separates what people want to have happen versus what probably will happen. - Rita Kohn (Note: Kohn is a co-founder of DivaFest.)

Good Things Come in Small Packages
2 Stars
The Small Packages are three short plays, written by three adult students from the Writer's Center of Indiana, each given the prompt to use a package or gift as a primary thematic element. The first, Goodbye From Too Far Away by Tina Nehrling, shows a single-parent family in turmoil over a box sent from their long-gone father. Nehrling offers interesting characters and a simple yet intriguing plot. Also somewhat effective is Gari Williams's Another Pandora, which depicts a whimsical meeting between two strangers who each want something uncommon from the other. By contrast, Jan White's stilted Fruit Flavor is peopled by cliché characters that struggle through a modern love triangle. - Katelyn Coyne

The Jazzy Detective
By Nicole Kearney

1 Star
Laden with an overly complicated plot and peopled by far-fetched characters, The Jazzy Detective, by DivaFest vet Nicole Kearney, is convoluted, confused and difficult to follow. Director Brandon Allmon-Jackson did little to remedy that situation in the play's opening weekend: Actors couldn't always be heard or understood, blocking was clunky and unmotivated and impractical props worked against the suspension of disbelief. - Katelyn Coyne

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