08 Fringe: “Adventures in Mating”

At 7:30 on the first Friday night of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival I saw “Adventures in Mating,” produced by Merely Players, Inc. out of Kentucky.  It was presented at the Comedysportz Arena.

I had never seen a show by this company before, but apparently they already have a strong Indy fan base.  Their opening night house was packed.

I have to say that I am now a solid fan myself.  This show is hilarious. 

Two people are on a blind date in a restaurant.  The man is hoping for sex that night.  The woman is hoping to get married.  They are both pretty clutsy in their own ways about maneuvering for what they want.

The humor is both smart and funny; I loved the specificity of the language and the actors’ spot-on delivery of it.  I could have watched a whole show of “just” the original story.

However, at various points in the story, the snobby-yet-also-somehow-chummy English waiter (Alan Velotta) rings a bell and gives the audience a choice.  Should the man choose red wine or white?  Should the woman kiss him or slap him?  Then the waiter rings the bell again and, based on the audience’s decision, the actors take the story forward.

The program says that this show was inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure novels.  Man, does that bring back memories of my days as a children’s librarian.  I remember the summer that those books first came out.  We could not keep them on the shelves!

Playwright Joseph Scrimshaw must have been part of that summer.  (Or maybe the books are still popular with kids.  I work mostly with teenagers at my public library now, so I haven’t kept up.)    In any case, he created a Choose Your Own Adventure story for adults that is belly-laugh funny and sexy.

Even more impressive, the three actors have prepared all 60+ possible scenes!  AND tweaked ALL of them to be unique to the Indianapolis area.  Rachel Simmons plays Miranda, a woman who is looking for “a nice Indianapolis man.”  Unfortunately, Jeffrey (Kevin Roach) is from Terre Haute.  They drink “crap red wine” from a Bloomington winery.  When Miranda says Jeffrey is really from Carmel, he roars, “Oh, come on!  That’s hitting below the belt!” and the audience roars even louder.

One of my favorite scenes is the one in which Miranda says that men have always treated her like a good book from the library: they read her, but they are not invested enough to take really good care of her.  They abandon her under the sofa cushion, they lend her to their friends… Oh, my, it is a hoot!  I wish I had a copy of this scene to give to all of my library colleagues. 

I am sorry that I can not remember the choices that led us to that scene!  If you go to this show (if you can get a ticket – be sure to go early!) you may not get to hear this particular scene.  However, I am certain that the scenes that you do get to see will be equally enjoyable.  I wish I had time to see all six of this show’s presentations here at the Indy Fringe.

Be sure to get a program.  As the oh-so-elegant Waiter says, “They make good fans.”  They also give a lot of interesting info about the show, the producing theatre group, and the actors, which is something you don’t always get at Fringe shows.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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