Going Going Gone and I Am Peter Pan

Sunday Morning at Indy Fringe Theatre

By: - Mar 30, 2013

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Don’t we all have way too much stuff.

The pack rat and hoarder in most of us can’t part with anything.

The improv piece Going Going Gone at a special Sunday morning meeting of the American Theatre Critics at the IndyFringe Theatre (719 East St Clair Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202) was hilarious but too close for comfort.

This past summer, for example, we hired our friend Roman to help us clean out a basement which was being renovated. There were still unopened boxes some 13 years after we moved in.

The tipping point on the absurdity of it all occurred when Roman poked his head into my office, and holding forth an ancient Frisbee, asked if I wanted to keep it. After a moment of genuine hesitation I consented to chuck it.

Should I ever decide to take up tossing a Frisbee I can get one at Walmart.

But darn. Where the heck is my boomerang?

The irony is that the Sunday morning meeting occurred in a former church building. I gave up on God a while back. Or did She give up on me?

I never seem to get that right.

Of the many events planned by organizer Lou Harry the Fringe meeting was particularly important. After a heavy dose of main stream arts and theatre it was insightful to catch a glimpse of what the kids are up to.

They are the future after all.

There was a too brief panel discussion that included the Australian born Pauline Moffatt, the executive director of IndyFringe Theatre which is soon to be renovated and expanded. There were Fringe directors Em Piro of Saint Louis and Eric Vosmeier from Cincinnati. A fringer driving from Chicago got stuck in traffic.

It was particularly poignant when Piro described The Brain Drain in St. Louis. While the schools attract gifted students and faculty there is not enough work to keep them in the region. Moffatt described giving a chunk of the box office to performers. We wondered how she paid her bills and acquired the abandoned church she resides in? It is located near the artsy Massachusetts Street with its lively mix of bars and restaurants.

In good weather there is a lively crowd out and about particularly during the annual Fringe Festival.

There was much more that I wanted to know but the schedule was tight and included a couple of edgy fringe pieces.

The first was a reprise of a hit one man show I Am Peter Pan by Ryan Mullins from the No Exit company. Note that cool reference to Sartre. So the funny/ sad piece was sortah existential and stuff.

It was apparently a hit during the Fringe Festival as Lou Harry reported in the Indianapolis Business Journal, the sponsor of the ATCA Meeting.

“Ryan Mullins stars in ‘I am Peter Pan.’ At Indy Fringe, No Exit stretched by doing something charming, sincere and (shock!) sweet: ‘I am Peter Pan,’ a one-man play about a boy wrestling with his father’s illness by going on imagined adventures to Neverland.

"Directed and devised by Butler grad Michael Burke and anchored by a joyful and sad tour-de-force performance by Ryan Mullins, the show featured a relentlessly smile-inducing first half, hitting some dramaturgical snags but ending with raw emotional power. I’m not convinced all the elements quite fit together, but I laughed. I cried. And my anticipation for more No Exit productions increased dramatically."

”I’m proud to be in a town with a Fringe fest that can make ‘I am Peter Pan’ into a high-flying hit. And, OK, there was a dud of an out-of-town improv group this year, but I’ve already forgotten its name.”

We were enchanted by the piece and the endless, boyish invention by the beanpole thin Mullins. He has a red play cart loaded with props and a large drawing book which he used to narrate his adventures with Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, the tick tock crocodile, The Lost Boys, and voyage to Neverland.

There were a lot of running gags involving the audience. One of them entailed Tinkerbell and fairies. Peter outed a rather stodgy critic from New Orleans as his fairy. The gentleman, who did not appear to be amused, more to the delight of the audience, was dubbed Tink.

Mullins sure knows how to whip an audience into a frenzy.

Truth is the piece was too long and self indulgent. It seemed to end and restart way too many times. With an edit the piece has legs mostly for its invention and energy. Hey, the kids are alright.

But who knew that Astrid Hiemer of Berkshire Fine Arts would end up being a key player in Going Going Gone?

There was something about a helicopter and how Karen (Irwin) had to clear out a house and sell all the stuff at auction. She was assisted by an auctioneer (Georgeanna Smith) and a man who was her ersatz therapist or something like that.

There were a whole lot of flea market items to be disposed of. Actual stuff which we got to keep. The audience was given play money and told to bid on items. You only had so much money so you had to be judicious in bidding.

But Karen, an emotional mess, couldn’t part with a number of items.

She snuck into the audience and gave Astrid a big stack of money. Surreptitiously she would give the high sign to outbid on certain items.

This was the cause for some panic as Astrid was ending up with a lot of stuff and not much room in our suitcases.

No worries. Karen would dart out and grab it back. Some items got reauctioned.

Astrid did hold onto a basket with some unfinished knitting inside. She has collected baskets for years and this one comes with a story.

As the auction wound down Karen was more and more of an emotional mess.

Eventually she was escorted off stage by her lecherous therapist.

We heard a lot of banging about.

Eventually, bound and gagged, Karen struggled to get back on stage.

Leaping to her aid Astrid bounded on stage and pulled the gag out of her mouth.

They managed to get her free as Astrid navigated the boundary between art and life.

As Jimmy Durante would say “Everybody’s getting in on the act.”

There were hugs all around.

What a hoot.