Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Feast

I'll confess-I've gone back and forth a number of times on a "way in" to this production that honors its complexity without implying discordance. Ultimately I found best way to approach the script by young playwright Celine Song is the both/and.  It's both narrative and experimental, a dining room drama and play about big ideas, both squirmingly morbid and goofily funny.

A dinner party of four awaits a latecomer in a world where all meat has suddenly become inedible. Sometimes a framing device like this leads to an exploration into addiction, but in this case the inquiry is into the nature of desire.
When we desire what we can't have, we seek substitutes,” says director Aimée Bruneau. “But we still feel empty; we're not fooled.  We feel anger; we blame; and we insist on feeling full. In this land of plenty, hunger and want are simply unacceptable.  The Feast asks, ‘If our collective first-world desire to be constantly satiated is so strong, how far are we from anarchy?
The components of the production are all there-from the acting, the direction, even the set that comes to life in disturbing ways.  The Feast is well suited to MAP's collaborative style, allowing the breathing room for everything from a bondage ballet to increasingly desperate hostess chatter. Each character has at least one extensive monologue which not only serves to develop that character, but also to highlight the isolation that they feel within the strictures of society.

It's that line between isolation and society that is so fascinating in The Feast-what is taboo and what drives us to cross the line?  How controllable are our desires, really? What's the difference between lust and hunger? When do we break away to satisfy our own individual drives? The hostess asks us to consider--not that we'd actually do the unthinkable, but let's just think about it for a second.  It makes for an evening of provocative, compelling theater.

It's strange that a play about emptiness feels so full.  At a trim 90 minutes it touches on an idea and then bounces on to the next one, all the while grounding characters in their stories and their descent into their primal natures.  Again, it's both/and.

The Feast closes this weekend, so bring your thinking cap and your sense of adventure.  Be ready to laugh, to squirm, and laugh while squirming.  A script like this is what independent theater is meant to be, and MAP were just the folks to give it life.

(Massive props for lady playwright, lady director and very lady-heavy production crew!  Snaps!)

All tickets are name your own price.  At the Schmee.

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