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Review: TASTE at Theatre Unchained

Review: TASTE at Theatre Unchained

The production runs through October 1st.

It's hard to comprehend a more unusual and nauseating narrative than the one re-imagined in Taste, Benjamin Brand's reality-based drama about a contract between a man with cannibalistic aspirations and the willing victim he solicits on the internet. The genuine event - preserved by the perpetrator on videotape - took place in Germany back in 2001, and contained a mutual pact to begin their operation by severing and then mutually dining on the victim.

At the baseline of the show's dark humor is the odd-couple split between Terry (Austin Hauptstueck), a sharp Felix Unger-type who attends the opera and loves decadent cooking, and his visitor, Vic (Bradley Allan Lowe), a wretchedly miserable man who's arrived that evening resolute to end it all, as excruciatingly and graphically as he possibly can.

Besides self-annihilation, Vic is also seeking for something else he's never experienced - a friend. It turns out that underneath his take-charge front, Terry is also acutely wanting in that department. The combination of little-boy loneliness, prim selfishness and bloodthirsty passion is absolutely fascinating. While you may be appalled, you yield as Brand's script moves you into dark and gruesome caverns of the human psyche, transforming the previously inconceivable into the clearly possible.

Bradley is a marvel of blinking, twitching energy as Vic, eternally doubtful and ill at ease, but he also instills the performance with a certain bravery and elegance. For reasons never explored in the play, Vic has made his peace with his decision-he isn't just going through with Terry's request, he wants to. Hauptstueck is masterful as Terry, the ideal host whose homicidal anger only breaks through sporadically. His demeanor changes as the plan continues, though, when he reacts to the reality of Vic's sacrifice with a sort of awed affection.

Director Megan Ann Jacobs manages an remarkable balancing act, delivering a bloody comedy and intense drama together in one smooth box. She gets excellent, nuanced performances from her actors in a difficult show that could easily have gone awry. Her staging makes the most of the theatrical space, helped immensely by the comprehensive apartment set featuring a working stove and sink and large painted backdrop windows. Brand's play successfully charts a course between being too terror campy or too clinically accurate, sure-footedly reaching the conclusion that this play really isn't really about murder/suicide but about two men who needed and finally found each other.



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From This Author - The Marriage Matinee

The Marriage Matinee is the joint effort of Mr. and Mrs. Caraker, newlyweds who live in Indianapolis, Indiana. Now that they’ve formed the bond of holy matrimony, they’re hoping to form... (read more about this author)


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