This Week in Theater
Written by Benjamin Brand
Review by Rose Desena
The past two weeks have been interesting in terms of shows. First, I saw a psychopathic teenager and her mother as the key characters in a science fiction thriller called Recall. The second show was about a sex-crazed family in a bizarre paly at the Odyssey called White Marriage; little did I know things would get worse. The show at the Sacred Fools Theater, ‘Taste,” was my next assignment. That sent me right over the edge. I wanted to jump up and scream “No Mas No Mas!”
“Taste” is a horrendous visual and emotional experience, a Grand Guignol look at the extreme needs and desires of those who walk that thin line between pain and pleasure, the sexually bankrupt who have nothing left but the ultimate thrill. If the writer Benjamin Brand wanted to write something that would have an impact on an audience he did a good job and Stuart Gordon (Director) successfully delivered Brand’s vision.
Terry is an obsessive compulsive with a nice apartment (thanks to a great stage set) and a fond affection for knives and porno. He likes to chop onions and does so with skill. Vic is a lonely tormented guy who is looking to walk on the very dark side with someone who shares his special fantasy, a very obscure fantasy, one that you can only experience once.
These two deranged men meet through cyber space, which just goes to prove no matter what your needs are you can get it with just a click of the mouse. The story opens softly and way too slowly, and I was wondering when things were going to happen. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for.
As the two continue their little dinner date, it becomes apparent that these are two extremely damaged individuals. Their plan for the evening is about to get ugly. What’s interesting is you know what they’re talking about but it never really occurs to you they’re dead serious. The stage literally becomes a bloody mess as the two men embark on their journey.
Now I am a believer of what goes on between two consulting adults is their business, right? Except they invited a bunch of people to watch, and I was one.
The only redeeming quality to Taste is Chris L. McKenna (Vic), who gave one of the most electrifying performances I have ever witnessed in LA Theater. He is absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t take my eyes off him even though I wanted to. He suckered me in, and I became a victim of his craziness. I hope he gets the recognition he is due.
This is the first time that a production made me physically sick. I was afraid I would have to use my purse as a barf bag. I am so glad I didn’t bring my Gucci. To be honest if my professionalism didn’t kick in I would have walked out. I was angry with myself for not doing so. This is for a very specific theater a goer; one who seeks out the absurd and can withstand a display of socially unexpected violence up close and personal.
There are a few works out there that have successfully succeeded in totally upsetting the audience, Psycho, and A Clockwork Orange are two good examples. Taste is not in that league but it left me with that same kind of stomach turning queasiness. The show seemed to go on for hours but it was only 90 minutes, and that’s a long time to squirm in your seat.
To my friends at Sacred Fools (I do like them) I admire your guts. I can only say best of luck on this one. This is not for the faint at heart and I think it’s a pretty distasteful production.
There are times when a girl needs Neil Simon. Oh, give me light and fluffy.
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by Benjamin Brand
Cast: Donal Thoms-Cappello & Chris L. McKenna
WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope, Hollywood, CA 90004
APRIL 11 - MAY 17, 2014 Thursdays-Saturdays @ 8pm and Sundays @ 7pm, www.sacredfools.org or by calling (310) 281-8337.