reviewed by Adam Crowe

Maybe you have never seen a play directed by Casey Ross. The Artistic Director for Catalyst Repertory Productions (formerly Casey Ross Productions) has been producing well received play for the last few years on small budgets and in locations other than the “usual theaters”.   One such location is The Grove Haus, an artists’ collective located South of Downtown Indianapolis. On Friday February 10, the Grove Haus hosted opening night of Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard. Originally produced in London in 1972, The Tooth of Crime is a musical play. A revised version of the play was presented in 1996, with new music by T-Bone Burnett and it is this version that Casey Ross and Company are presenting at The Grove Haus.

Complex. Demanding. These are the best words I can find to describe this production. The play itself demands a lot – from its two main actors, and also from its audience. Shepard has created a very specific world, set sometime in an American future, where the inhabitants still speak English, but with elaborate and unusual slang. It takes several minutes (or more) for an audience to adjust their ears and begin to follow what the actors are talking about. Shepard’s setting suggests an elaborate contest being played by his characters, under the gaze of some sort of overlords or “Keepers”. What that contest entails slowly becomes clearer – somewhat.


From left: Adam Tran as Crow confronts Davey Pelsue as Hoss in CRP’s production of “Tooth of Crime”.

Hoss, played by Davey Pelsue, is our Hero. He is at the top of his “game” and must constantly track the rise of challengers. The latest such foe finally makes his appearance in Act II – in the guise of Adam Tran’s Crow. As I have said before, I try not to detail a play’s entire plot as I don’t wish to spoil the journey. In this instance, such explanation would be a bit pointless, as the ostensible plot is less important than the rapid fire of ideas, spoken and sung. Both lead actors are fierce and their performances are terrific. Playing an assortment of supporting characters, the cast includes Jay Hemphill, Sarah Hoffman, Zach Stonerock, Nan Macy, Ryan Powell and David Malloy. And as it is a musical play – the house band includes Christopher McNeely, Chris Burton, Kris Mainer, Ben Eads, David Rosenfield, Andy Strum, and Craig Burton. Other than some occasional volume issues, the band is great.


“Tooth of Crime” set: designed by Andrew Darr

Should you go? I will say this – if you want to be an audience member who sits and lets the play wash over you, this might not be the show for you. Complex and demanding, remember? Tooth of Crime requires full investment from its audience. If you are looking for a theatrical experience – something you will find nowhere else – This IS for you. Seating is limited, so get tickets sooner rather than later.

The Grove Haus is located at 1001 Hosbrook Street in the Fountain Square neighborhood.

Tickets for Tooth of Crime may be purchased by visiting The play runs February 10th – 26th. Friday and Saturday curtain at 8 pm. Sunday’s curtain is at 5 PM. Tickets are $20.