Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: Water by the Spoonful at Indy Fringe

Heavy material that is so worth the ticket



5 stars 

Quiara Alegría Hudes' 2012 Pulitzer-winning play won that major award for a reason: it's breathtakingly brilliant.

Many reviews note the play concerns an Iraqi war veteran coming to terms with his soul-shattering time in service - and the play is about that BUT it's about so much more. You don't hand this script to newbs — this heavy material requires, begs for, an audience capable of handling heavy material. The material also needs actors and actresses who can command the stage and bring the house to hearty laughter and genuine tears. Simply put, you need the best. The Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project, with producing artistic director Ronn Johnston, found the best. By play's end, I could see I wasn't the only audience member likening the entire presentation to a revolutionary revelation of spirit and humanity.

At 2.5 hours, with a brief intermission, there is synchronicity for everyone. The intimate once-a-church and now-the-Basile Theatre was the perfect venue for such an intense piece, which is actually part of a trilogy. The set/design team of Sarah White and Kelly Gualdoni, respectively brought cubism and projection to visually represent the atmosphere - and they did it well. Cubism itself represents many movements, but in the traditional sense, something that can be analyzed is broken and reassembled, offering multiple lenses for study. I can't think of a better artistic medium to represent Spoonful. Projection, which has hit the saturation point in realms such as Powerpoint, is instead used effectively here — never distracting or pointless — that, in and of itself, is worth noting.


Hudes' writing contains some real one-liner gems, masterfully articulated and executed by all cast members, including: Mauricio Miranda, Elysia Rohn, Dena Toler, Scott Russell, Butch Copeland, Tracy Herring, and Sunny Atwal. Each character is brought to life by its host and given the chance to shine — so brightly, that it hardly seemed over two hours had passed by the play's end. Some of those moments included snappy dialogue such as:

Life is short, you can only live in mediocrity for so long.
I've been meaning to become an asshole – can you teach me?
Ideas don't fill the void - they just help articulate it.

Hoosiers should be proud of this team's obvious hard work and dedication to breathing a full and deserving life into A Spoonful of Water and it would be a shame if theater lovers missed this masterpiece, which provided a warm introduction from director Johnston, just enough instances of levity to cushion some of the almost too intense to bear moments, and plenty of visuals to accompany the symbolism present in the written work. Wisdom Tooth's work is a true gift to Indianapolis.


Directed by Ronn Johnstone

Showtimes and tickets
Friday, October 9, 2015 - 8:00pm
Saturday, October 10, 2015 - 8:00pm
Sunday, October 11, 2015 - 5:00pm
Friday, October 16, 2015 - 8:00pm
Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 8:00pm
Sunday, October 18, 2015 - 5:00pm
Friday, October 23, 2015 - 8:00pm
Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 8:00pm


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