Terry (Donal Thoms-Cappello) is preparing a meal in his neat, fashionable apartment when his guest arrives. It's Vic (Chris L. McKenna), who has responded to a peculiar ad Terry had placed on the Internet. Terry, all smiles and charm, tries to put the nervous Vic at his ease, offering him food, but Vic is allergic to just about everything Terry offers. After a while, they get down to the matter at hand: Vic has offered to let Terry kill and eat him. After a few false starts, things begin to progress. Following an unexpected revelation, however, Vic changes his mind, but Terry resists change. Violently.
McKenna is a marvel of blinking, twitching energy as Vic, forever uncertain and ill at ease, but he also imbues the performance with a certain courage and grace. For reasons never explored in the play, Vic has made his peace with his decisionhe isn't just going through with Terry's request, he wants to. Thoms-Cappello is masterful as Terry, the perfect host whose homicidal anger only breaks through occasionally. His demeanor changes as the plan proceeds, though, when he reacts to the reality of Vic's sacrifice with a sort of awed tenderness.
Director Gordon manages an impressive balancing act, delivering a bloody comedy and serious drama together in one seamless package. He gets superb, nuanced performances from his actors in a difficult project that could easily have gone astray. His staging makes the most of the theatrical space, helped immensely by DeAnne Millais' detailed apartment set featuring a working stove and sink and large painted backdrop windows. Brand's play effectively charts a course between being too horror campy or too clinically realistic, sure-footedly reaching the conclusion that this story isn't really about murder/suicide but about two men who needed and finally found each other.
Taste plays at the Sacred Fools Theater through May 17, 2014. For tickets and information, see www.sacredfools.org.
Sacred Fools Theater Company, The Schramm Group LLC and Red Hen Productions presents Taste, written by Benjamin Brand. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Set Design DeAnne Millais; Lighting Design Matt Richter; Special Effects Tony Doublin; Costume Design Jennifer Christina Smith.