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Review: Indiana New Play Festival

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IndyFringe Theatre, Nov. 26-28. A week after its debut in Bloomington, Starrynight Production's first annual Indiana New Play Festival came to Indianapolis, showcasing two full length plays and two one-acts.

The first one-act, A Country Drenched in Tears, (3 stars), by Cindy Kessler, explores the terror, boredom and despair that come with being a volunteer in a foreign disaster area. The result is a play whose engaging dramatic moments compensate for some acting inconsistencies. The best scenes occur when two actors appear onstage alone, allowing for moments of understated emotion and humanity in what is effectively portrayed as a chaotic backdrop. The scenes with several actors on stage at times appear cluttered, but it is the bits between nurse Holly (Emily Solt) and mechanic Louis (Brian Boyd) that shine.

Uncertainty (or Imprecision), (4.5 stars) by Nick Krohn follows three friends who are each on a blind date, simultaneously, that takes them on a hilarious discovery of science, love and anonymity. The stage is cleverly divided between two sections at a time, allowing the play to keep its freshness through contrasting scenes. The show never drags, building up a very nice comedic momentum. The acting is consistent and featured what was probably the most obvious rapport between performers of the shows this weekend, even with up to six people on stage at once. Special acting kudos goes to bartender Stan (Roy Shillings) and the two squabbling, famous scientific theorists (Aaron Moon and Emily Solt) whose dating advice never fails to earn honest laughs. It's these last two especially who take this funny, engaging play about the relation of chance and love to the next level.

The one-act, Love and Hitchcock, (4 stars) by Derrick Krober portrays the murderous relationship between married couple Harry (Aaron Moon) and Marnie (Emily Solt). Both actors play off each other to wonderful effect throughout the play, but it's the show's unexpected moments of tension that are most effective. Scenes of well-done slapstick and surprisingly dramatic desperation are deftly woven together to form a play whose brevity does nothing to curb its comedic impact. Also worth noting is its inclusion of one of the most realistic death scenes I've witnessed on stage or film.

The festival's final full-length play, April Smallwood's Cinderella Dressed in Yellow, (3.5 stars) picks up where the famous fairytale left off — throwing the princess into a less-than-perfect world of misogyny and failed expectations. It does an effective job of expanding upon and completely changing what countless children had always assumed was a life happily-ever-after. April Smallwood as Cinderella expresses a wide range of emotions throughout the show, nicely changing the tone from one scene to the next. The gruff and cross-dressing Fairy Godmother (Aaron Moon) adds humorous commentary from the sidelines in what are surely the show's funniest moments. The play's motif of "men are heartless douchebags" seems a tad over-played at times, but does little to detract from an otherwise thoroughly engaging and pleasantly farcical production.

— Jeff Cox

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