SARASOTA – On Friday night, Urbanite Theater opened its production of Cory Finley's The Feast, although with a preshow announcement that all future dates had been canceled. What had already been disappointing news was only compounded by the excellence of the performance.
Finley's somewhat avant-garde play sort of meanders through genres in its tight-paced 60-minutes. Matt, a promising visual artist, is going through a rough time from the onset. He is seemingly struggling through either a psychological crisis or demonic possession, all while his relationship with Anna teeters on the brink.
Are there creatures living in the pipes of his toilet, summoning him down for their feast, or is he losing his mind? We never truly find out. At its core, the play seems more of an allegory for embracing the monsters in our head than anything resembling a linear plot-driven story, but what a compelling allegory it is.
Clio Contogenis gave a powerful performance as Anna, a driven, type-A consultant who confronts her more inward and self-involved boyfriend's obvious disinterest in the details of her workday. Gregory Boover did a good job of conveying Matt's initial detachment, as well as his slide toward madness in a visceral manner that's very engaging for the audience.
However, the most impressive performance, in my opinion, belonged to Casey Murphy who played the rest of the parts, including a plumber, Anna's coworker and secondary romantic interest, and an art dealer. Murphy weaved in and out of his roles seamlessly, giving the play a greater sense of depth.
This is a compelling play, a fresh and modern take on stagecraft that suggests great promise for the 30-year-old Finley, who's also found success in film after his debut screenplay, Thoroughbreds, made a big splash at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The movie, which was originally conceived as a play, was also directed by Finley and was also the last film to feature award-winning actor Anton Yelchin (Hearts in Atlantis, Alpha Dog, House of D), who died in a freak accident shortly afterward.
Urbanite had hoped to reschedule the run in the near term but later announced the cancellation of the rest of its season. Urbanite co-founder Brendan Regan has said, however, that the theater company hopes to still be able to bring the play back, though the current uncertainty of when the coronavirus pandemic will subside enough for people to return to the public squares of our community have made it impossible to say when.