Chicago Theatre Review
This Feast Made Me Nauseous
The Feast – Red Theater Chicago at the Den Theatre
I love the Red Theater and the idea it represents. Free theater, be a comrade, ask dangerous questions- all good. The idea of keeping theater free for all is a great and noble idea.
Entering the theater with the cast already seated at an enormous wooden table; the set is impressive and interesting. I am ready to settle in for a great experience. I thought about all the people that would be able to see the Chicago Premiere and experience a live show.
As I mentioned, the set is awesome (Mike Mroch). The larger than life table with larger than life chargers? plates? carefully placed for each of the guests. There is one chair with no one in it. We find out that it is the husband who is missing. He is late and promises to come to the dinner party as soon as he can.
The guests are drinking wine and seem quietly waiting. They wait for the husband of the hostess to come home from work. They wait and drink wine. And they wait and drink more wine.
As the waiting and drinking continues, each of the guests talks to each other and the audience.
Wendy is the well played hostess. Alejandra Vivanco lays out the premise of this 90 minute tale of human nature. She keeps calling her husband as the guests get restless before dinner is served. Turns out they get REALLY RESTLESS.
In fact Wendy lets the audience know that meat cannot be found. They are eating salads and veggies, and boy do they miss their meat.
The thought of cannibalism starts slow with Wendy, and the heat gets turned up to full velocity while all the guests take over the dinner party with their stories and fears. The married couple guests (Rhett and Sam) dive into their fantasies including time travel lipstick. Carl Wisniewski and Shelby Garrett commit to the couples tense and complicated relationship. They forge on confidently through a confusing, meatless mind warp.
As Xander, Henry Greenberg is cute and delicious. He plays the nervous scientist with ease. He tried to make sense of the world unraveling around him.
The butler had multiple duties in this production. He kept the wine flowing on an empty stomach, not sure THAT was good ideas (but I have been there). He kept the table neat and clean and helped the other actors out as well. Pavi Proczko gives the show his all and a breath of fresh air throughout the show.
Let’s just say, that by the time the husband gets to the dinner party, the party guests are hangry and have been talking about eating each other and others. When Francis finally arrives, its too much too late. Ricky Quitana has the awful responsibility of being the actual main course of the party. During his monologue, the company “eats him for dinner”. It is a ridiculous scene, not because of any blood or gore, but because it lacks it. A jungle of hanging meet is revealed around him. I was confused.
The direction by Gage Wallace, got the necessary intensity and drama from his cast. They were committed and strong. I am just not sure the material was as good and strong too.
I am too old? Did I miss something? Am I missing the relevance of this piece? These are the questions I asked myself about Celine Songs uncomfortable work. I was intrigued by its direction, but ultimately disappointed. None of the characters I really cared about. It all seemed too desperate to me. They must REALLY hate salad. And it really hadn’t been that long that meat was not present.