A job interview goes over the top in 'Eat the Runt.'
The Renegade Theatre Experiment opens its 10th year with Avery Crozier’s 2001 play Eat the Runt. Under the direction of Sean Murphy, a founding member of the Experiment, the comedy is quite entertaining. The eccentric work leaves it to the audience to choose who plays each character, and the cast of eight must learn all eight roles, resulting in more than 40,000 different casting possibilities.
The actors are undoubtedly devoted to the task at hand. Each night, the audience is given the name of each character with a short synopsis of who they are as a person. Then as Murphy points to a cast member, audience members applaud for whom they want to cast in each role. Whoever gets the loudest applause wins the role.
Cleverly void of the use of any pronouns, the play promises to be a mix of gender-bending, colorblindness and the audience’s expectations for each role. Based on who is cast in each night’s rendition, Crozier’s writing leaves the opportunity for unexpected humor and role reversals.
Last Saturday, the actors ready to take on the challenge included Mandy Armes, Robert Campbell, Sara Luna, Keith Marshall, Alexander Prather, Vera Sloan, David Scott and Valerie Valenzuela. They showed no lack of preparation as they immediately and enthusiastically jumped into the roles the audience awarded them with. The comedic timing was spot onÑremarkable, given the seemingly short timing of their being cast for the role. At some points, the actors seemed to be having even more fun than the audience.
The story introduces us to the unconventional and high-strung employees of the Chicago Museum of Art, each of whom takes part in interviewing a prospective candidate for a grant-writer position. Merritt the interviewee (Campbell on opening night) was hilariously cunning as he seduces and terrorizes each of his interviewers.
Among the highlights of the evening was Campbell’s honesty about his sexual escapades, Prather’s portrayal of an utterly bizarre religious epiphany atop a desk and Marshall’s reaction to learning the source of the cheese he had just devoured was not from the milk of a cow. The ending is full of twists and turns that are perfectly executed.