Theatre Review: “Madwomen’s Late Nite Cabaret” at DivaFest

Last Friday night I stayed late at the Indy Fringe building in downtown Indianapolis to see another of the five winning plays in the first annual, juried “DivaFest” – a celebration of local women playwrights, sponsored by the Indy Fringe Festival.

This one was called “Madwomen’s Late Nite Cabaret.”  It was written and directed by Julie Lyn Barber.  She also starred in it along with Amanda Hummer, Erica Dumond, Ben Asaykwee and Darrin Murrell.

I didn’t recognize Ben as the hostess Ethel Merman until I saw his name on the Fringe website later, but if he was that tall, sassy belter in drag, then the person on the piano must have been Darrin Murrell.  Darrin pounded the keys, and sometimes pounded an axe for percussion, as a drag version of Lizzie Borden. 

The three female performers all sang re-written famous songs while impersonating various famous women throughout history (or herstory, perhaps I should say.)   The famous women included just about every woman that has been called mad and/or who maybe was,  from those two girls that were tied together in Greek (?) mythology to Sojouner Truth to Joan of Arc to the heads (just the heads) of three unfortunate queens.

They were all funny, but what I enjoyed most was hearing their beautiful singing voices.

The set featured a rocking chair, a carved chaise lounge, and a sort of puppet stage.  The costumes were more elaborate, and included a very long and thick, curly blonde wig for, the original Lady Godiva to wear over not much else.  I don’t know who to credit for any of this since there was no program, but I appreciated all of it.

I also appreciated the anonymous lighting design.  It was very exciting and made me think, “Hey!  When did the Fringe building get swingable spot lights?”   

The show as a whole was bizarre and hilarious.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh –

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