Working Class Socialite brings back expanded festival hit, "The Ship of Dreams"

Fringe vs. history: Juxtaposed farewell waves from Titanic
My fading memories of the megahit "Titanic" focus mainly on two things: the front-to-back embrace of lovers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and the horrific wonder of passengers viewed at a distance sliding down the steeply tilted deck into the icy Atlantic waters.

I don't know why the romantic story and the theme of class conflict disappeared in my mind, but it was recalled for me with zestful mockery in "The Ship of Dreams" Thursday at IndyFringe's Indy Eleven intimate stage. The vigorous one-act send-up of James Cameron's  1997 film builds upon the young theater company Working Class Socialite 's Fringe Festival production from 2022. The show will run through April 21.

The production's style privileges even faulty recall. But it will most likely appeal to playgoers just sentimental and knowledgeable enough about the movie to appreciate revisiting it with a jaundiced eye. The vivid approach that Paige Scott has encouraged from her cast (who devised the script that they clearly own in the most complete sense) works consistently across 90 uninterrupted minutes. 

The full-bore energy of farce requires that the actors believe in what they're doing unquestioningly. None are more embedded in their roles here than Elysia Rohn and Hannah Boswell, who play the ill-fated lovers Rose and Jack. 

An artificial style can sometimes encourage a winking presentation of broad comedy, as sometimes seen in Gilbert & Sullivan classics, when the actors are seduced by the songs. "The Ship of Dreams" benefits from performances embedded in both the pathos and the nonsense that rub shoulders throughout. No matter how broadly they play it, actors in shows like this need to convey that everything makes sense to their characters.

Rose reaches out for rescue near journey's end. 
It helps that the production adheres to Scott's performance-art credo, shared as "mixing her brand of minimalist theatre with an offbeat sophistication," to quote from the troupe's Facebook page. The minimalism teases and charms the audience's imagination. 

The props tend toward handheld cardboard, with some slide projections and backlit figures seen through cloth.  Much of the jerrybuilt wizardry is handled by Jason Adams, outfitted in the classic manner as the ship's captain and sitting to one side of the playing area. 

The rest of the cast, bringing back the movie's named characters and a clutch of others, consists of the highly committed talents and ensemble investment of Shelby Myers, Meg McLane, Tracy Herring, Brittany Magee, Courtney McClure, and Ariel Laukins. Choreography and song are lusty elements in the storytelling and the smooth movement on and off the stage.

"My Heart Will Go On," the hit song from the movie, gets proper show-stopping treatment. The maiden voyage of the Titanic itself was a kind of show-stopper from both intentional and accidental standpoints. In ironic tribute, "The Ship of Dreams" sails safely into a port all its own.

[Photos: Indy Ghost Light (apart from 1912 launch image)]



Popular posts from this blog

Actors Theatre Indiana romps through a farce — unusually, without a founder in the cast

Indianapolis Opera presents 'A Little Night Music,' a sexy comedy of Scandinavian manners

DK's 'Divas A-New': What's past is prologue (so is what's present)