Sunday, September 24, 2017

THE FEAST • St. Louis Actors' Studio

Poor Matt. His relationship with his girlfriend isn’t as sunny as it appears, his career as an artist has hit a slump, and there are some really creepy noises coming from his toilet. That’s the situation in St. Louis native Cory Finley’s The Feast, premiering in New York City after being workshopped at HotCity’s 2014 Greenhouse New Play Festival. The Feast launches St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s 11th season, and for all of the humor in it, the play, under John Pierson’s tight direction, maintains an eerie vibe of impending doom.

Unbeknownst to Matt (Spencer Sickmann) his live-in girlfriend Anna (Jennifer Theby-Quinn) has called in a plumber (Ryan Scott Foizey) to address some disturbing sounds that have been coming from the commode. Matt doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, but Anna describes the sounds to the plumber as “Deep in the pipes”, “Like a man, tied up down there” but “Not quite a human”. The subject of Matt's toilet troubles also comes up with his therapist, who seems to endorse the existence of these creatures, and again with Jeff, Matt’s art dealer friend, who is impressed with Matt’s newest painting, but warns against angering those who inspired it. Is Matt’s toilet some kind of portal to a race of underground pipe dwellers, or has his fragile mental state been driven over the edge once he learns of Anna’s infidelity?

Matt (Spencer Sickmann).
Photo credit: Patrick Huber
Sickmann does a great job taking the audience along on his strange trip as Matt. He’s convincing in his state of constant disarray, from his disheveled hair to his puzzled expression and unsure demeanor. Theby-Quinn draws a lot out of the role of Anna -- careful with Matt’s feelings, but fed up with his indifference. Foizey as “The Man” plays everyone else -- the plumber, therapist, Jeff, and the “other man” -- all characters who to some degree touch on a nerve of Matt’s, and a diverse Foizey embodies them all authentically in speech and manner. Creative contributions add a great deal to the creepiness of the play, including Patrick Huber’s lighting and scenic design along with Pierson’s sound design.

Finley’s 70-minute comedy-thriller teases and drifts in tone, enough to engage you while keeping you just a little off balance. Check it out for an original, macabre, entertaining night at the theatre. It’s playing at the Gaslight Theater until the 8th.


Matt (Spencer Sickmann) and Anna (Jennifer Theby-Quinn).
Photo credit: Patrick Huber
THE FEAST

Written by Cory Finley
Directed by John Pierson
The Gaslight Theater, 358 N. Boyle Ave.
through October 8 | tickets: $30 - $35
Performances Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm

Cast
Matt: Spencer Sickmann
Anna: Jennifer Theby-Quinn
The Man: Ryan Scott Foizey


The Plumber (Ryan Scott Foizey)
and Matt (Spencer Sickmann).
Photo credit: Patrick Huber
Creative
Stage Manager: Amy J. Paige
Scenic Designer: Patrick Huber
Lighting Designer: Patrick Huber
Sound Designer: John Pierson
Technical Director: Joseph Novak
Costume Designer: Carla Landis Evans
Props Designer: Carla Landis Evans
Light Board Operator: Sally Liz Evans
Sound Board Operator: Amy J. Paige
Master Electrician: Dalton Robison
House Manager: Kimberly Sansone

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