(Note: The above little video is one that I made outside the Phoenix Theatre with Minnesota-based storyteller Loren Niemi on my trusty iPhone during the main Indy Fringe Festival last summer but for one reason or another never posted. I should have stood closer to Loren while I was filming so that the volume would be more even (maybe that is why I never posted it), but you can at least get a sense of what he looks and sounds like. And since I don’t have another publicity photo to use with this mini-review, I’m going with this video.)
Tonight I drove to the Indy Fringe Theatre in the Mass. Ave. theatre district of Indianapolis to see Loren Niemi’s solo theatre show, “Moby Dick Tonight.”
I am very, very sorry that I arrived too late to be able to write a proper review of it. Here are some quick thoughts about it instead:
It is only around an hour long because (I think) it was developed for the Fringe circuit. However, it is also a very layered piece – literary and visceral, “deep” and funny. Loren becomes characters from Herman Melville’s novel (e.g. – Ishmael, Ahab, Queequeg, and the great white whale itself) as he reflects on the novel and relates it to his own life, incorporating still more people.
The piece is simply but theatrically staged, with the house lights way down and an intensely, sometimes uncomfortably, colored lighting design for the almost bare set. (The “blue” parts felt as if we were, indeed, under water. My eyes started to sting.) There is a wooden chair next to several props on a table. There is a clip or two of recorded music. I forgot to see if there was a program, but I think the man running lights and sound for Loren was Indy Fringe Technical Director Patrick McCarney.
At one point, Loren lights and smokes a cigar, which smells great. But if you are allergic to smoke, don’t worry: he puts out he cigar in an ash tray after just a couple of puffs.
As usual, what I loved most about Loren’s work was the swoon-worthy language. Loren’s word choices are crisp and original. His stories are filled with sensuous, sometimes even erotic images and challenging ideas. This particular piece left me wondering about my own metaphorical Moby Dick. Unfortunately, I probably have more than one.
After the show tonight, Loren told me that he and Howard Lieberman have been confirmed for this year’s main Indy Fringe Festival in August. Their well-received, adults-only show last year was called “Sex, Drugs, and Audience Participation.” Their Indy Fringe venue this year will be the Phoenix Theatre again, but he has not yet been told specific dates and times.
“We are adding religion to the mix this year,” Loren said. “Our show will be ‘Sex, Drugs, and Religion.”
“AND Audience Participation?” I asked.
Then he gave me a sly grin and added, “Maybe I’ll tell about that time in the revival tent.”
Loren Niemi’s solo show, “Moby Dick Tonight” has only one more performance here in Indianapolis: tomorrow (Saturday) night, May 22, 2010, at 7:30pm at the Indy Fringe Theatre (formerly and casually known as the Indy Fringe building.) Buy tickets online at www.indyfringe.org or pay$10 at the door.
‘See you at the theatres!
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com
Follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com.