Review: Stuart Gordon’s Taste

2014/04/12 20:27:16 +00:00 | Heather Wixson

Based on my experiences at his previous theater offerings here in Los Angeles over the last few years, I knew I was going to be in for a delectable time with Stuart Gordon’s latest play, Taste,  which opens this weekend at the Sacred Fools Theatre Company (660 N. Heliotrope, Hollywood) and runs through May 17, 2014. A gut-wrenching and often times horrifying exploration of isolation and what it means to truly connect with others, Taste is a truly haunting experience.

Loosely based on the real-life incident where two men found each other on Craigslist so that one could be cannibalized by the other, Taste follows two men named Vic (Chris L. McKenna) and Terry (Donal Thoms-Cappello). After befriending each other online, they meet for a gruesomely unique dinner party with Vic wanting to be cooked and consumed by his new pal and Terry, an aspiring chef, happily agreeing to go along with the plan. And while the concept itself sounds pretty cut and dry, Taste is actually a rather complex and engaging study of human connection in this digital age that seems to be getting more and more impersonal with every day that passes.

It’s hard to imagine what would ever drive someone to the point where they would want to be consumed by another human being, but Taste treats this bizarre scenario with an unflinching honesty and respect that you can’t help but admire. It would have been easy to either play up more of the horror or comedy elements of the story, but writer Benjamin Brand and director Gordon tackle the tale straight-on, letting the humor and the dramatic conflicts build organically as our characters struggle with their dinner plan decision in almost real-time. Gordon also smartly bypasses using an intermission with Taste which I think only enhanced the experience and kept from breaking the incredible sense of tension he and his actors create throughout.

Taste also uses a real, working kitchen onstage which adds a nice touch to the authenticity of the piece that’s also a bit off-putting at times, especially when your smelling all kinds of delicious aromas and the characters are onstage are discussing which body part they want to sauté next.  A subtle and wonderfully twisted touch that really puts you right there in the moment.

And while Gordon’s directorial approach and Brand’s script are both equally masterful, the success of Taste is riding all on actors McKenna and Thoms-Cappello to keep audiences engaged from start to finish. The duo both deliver blisteringly raw and heartfelt performances that keeps this oddball tale from ever veering off-course. McKenna’s portrayal of Vic, a man who has never experienced real human connection before, is nothing short of astonishing and heartbreaking. Thoms-Cappello is also fantastic as Terry, a compulsive collector who wastes nothing in life who wants nothing more to savor every morsel of Vic’s being, which of course has a few meanings in this instance.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, Taste is not to be missed. A thoughtful and stunning character piece on loneliness and the cannibalization of the human condition, Gordon is in top-form here with an experience that’s as horrific and disturbing as it is tragic and poignant.

Score: 4/5

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.