Feast by Clout Theatre is on at Summerhall until August 18th, and if you like your physical theater with a heavy dollop of performance art, you will want to sign up for this smorgasbord of shock and excess.
It begins with Sacha Paige lying gracefully on a perfect circle of what could only be coffee grounds, since the show starts with breakfast, and things deteriorate quickly from there, as we learn that Paige is actually a hungry figure from the dawn of time whose relationship with food is rather primal and desperate. She dives at anything that seems edible, her hunger a gnawing force of hope and anger that drives her to survive. But she is blown around by circumstances and doesn’t understand her own power to master her environment and quell that hunger yet.
It’s fascinating to see Paige embody this hungry creature, as so few of us have known true hunger, yet watching her struggle is familiar, somehow encoded in to our communal experience, an experience so painful that we would do anything to avoid it, even go so far as to set up elaborate systems of husbandry and dominion to harness that power of food to sustain us.
Moving through the annals of time, and the meal cycle simultaneously, Paige soon enters other eras of consumption. A Baroque feast-like setting is carefully dismantled and consumed in surprising and hilarious ways, like a spaghetti boxing match with oneself. What Feast does so well is expose our absurd, sometimes dysfunctional relationship with food by dismantling our taboos in sometimes raucous and often disturbing ways. By getting messy for starters. By wasting food. By having a food fight. By getting sensual with food. By using food to show power or status, and by crossing the decorum line repeatedly into gross territory and causing some gasps and squirms in the audience.
Moving through the annals of time, and the meal cycle simultaneously, Paige soon enters other eras of consumption.
Especially moving was the visceral and vulnerable approach to the sensitive subject of eating disorders that did not shy away from the carnal aspects of our bodies as they betray us. In fact, Paige’s approach is wholly physical, not a word is spoken, and her range of expression is so nuanced that there is never a dull moment as one tries to unravel what her body has to say about food next. A quick search on the internet shows that previous productions have had a larger cast of three and it would have been interesting to see what further levels of complexity might have developed between characters while they managed their relationships to food together.
Director Mine Cerci and designer Naomi Kuyck Cohen bring the gravity and joie de vivre of physical theater sensibility to this complex production. With a powerful musical score by Erik Perera, spontaneous moments of celebration erupt, and with the aid of technology, some rather intimate time can be spent with a raw chicken. Not for the faint-hearted, but honoring the bold spirit of performance art, Feast challenges as hard as it amazes and brings our appreciation of food and its power over us to a whole new level.
Feature photo courtesy of Volkan. All photos courtesy of Clout Theatre