Take A Bite
August 1, 3 and 5
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a magnificently delicious meal followed by a mediocre and flavourless dessert? You can’t really say that the dessert ruined the meal for you as the main dishes were wonderful. But somehow that letdown at the end of the meal leaves you with a niggling sense of disappointment that you just can’t shake.
This is how I felt seeing Take A Bite. A solid 99% of the play delivers a creative story with interesting ideas and fantastic acting. The end however let the air out of the balloon.
The play opens with two strangers, Vera and Dion, locked in a room together without knowing where they are or how they got there. Dion, an 18-year-old coming down off and acid trip and covered in blood assumes they are in jail and for lack of any other explanation, Vera, a 33-year-old ex-teacher agrees.
With nothing else to do but wait till their release, the two start talking. Or rather Dion starts talking rather frenetically about sex and girls and anything else his stream of consciousness speaking patterns allow. He tells Vera that the girl he sleeps with, Tonya, is actually dating a big and violent man named Steve who beats her regularly. He figures the blood on his shirt is Tonya having a nose bleed on him mid-coital and that having sex with Tonya is the last thing he remembers before waking up in the cell. He tells her about his sex-ed class in school where he witnessed a condom being put on a banana and subsequently thinking a man needed a banana to have sex. He also tells her about his cheating father and how his mom used to bake gingerbread for him. It all comes out in a scattered but sweet and often funny rant made even kookier by the malapropisms that Dion tosses in. The situation is iconic instead of ironic, his was given corporeal punishment at school instead of corporal punishment and Vera seems inhabited instead of inhibited. Some of these word switches Vera corrects, but neither she nor the audience is really sure if Dion does them on purpose, making them even more amusing.
Vera eventually opens up to Dion, explaining that the reason she is wearing a sexy nightgown is because she was at her boyfriend Eric’s place before waking up in the cell. She also tells Dion that she has never felt pretty or desired and hints that there are problems between her and Eric, but recoils when pressed about what they are.
Finally through his un-ironic praise of Vera and laying bare his own background, Dion is able to coax Vera into telling him her story. It’s not what the audience expects and I was grateful for the clever twist which was neither farfetched or melodramatic but rather interesting and introspective.
Since I am going to ruin the ending of the play for you (stop reading here if you don’t want to know) I will not ruin the best part of the play for you. The part leading up to the end. All I will say is that Take A Bite takes an existential turn and makes the plot utterly believable and surprisingly not weird in the slightest. Up to this point, the script is brilliantly written, the story moves along perfectly and Liana Shannon as Vera and Isaac Andrew as Dion give near flawless performances.
Then the dessert. It was all a dream. Not only did the story not happen, Take A Bite goes ones step further and rubs in the fact that it was only a dream with dreadfully corny last lines of dialogue. I shook my head. Why after such intelligent story telling did the playwright choose to wrap things up in a tidy mundane package? Of course I’ll never know, so I’m just trying to focus on the 99% of the play I really liked and hoping the ending won’t give me indigestion.
For the guys – It’s weird and funny and cool. SEE IT
For the girls – Vera’s story will move you and you will and you will find yourself liking Dion like a lost and somewhat smelly puppy. SEE IT
For the occasional audience – It will be one of the fastest hours at the Fringe you will spend. Time flies when things are good. SEE IT
For the theatre junkies – I will feel your pain at the ending. But go for the rest of it. SEE IT