The Last Supper
Infusion Theatre

Critic's Pick - TimeOut Chicago

Critic's Pick - "For frustrated liberals (i.e., liberals), Last Supper's menu is almost too tempting. When the dinner guest of some lefty grad students turns out to be a Hitler-loving racist, his sudden, sort-of accidental death gives them a taste for offing the world's baddies.

9/4/06 - 10/22/06

Thu-sat 8p; Sun 3p

Critic's Pick - "For frustrated liberals (i.e., liberals), Last Supper's menu is almost too tempting. When the dinner guest of some lefty grad students turns out to be a Hitler-loving racist, his sudden, sort-of accidental death gives them a taste for offing the world's baddies. So they invite over virulent reactionaries like the author of "Women Call It Rape" and, if they can't change their views, poison them. While we don't quite buy that Golob's young actors go in no time flat from geeks to killers, we absolutely do believe that these five are fast friends and, later, partners in crime. In Grant Sabin's spot-on, thrift store-reeking apartment set, Golob has his impressive cast speak (sometimes too) sotto voce around a table, giving us an eavesdropping thrill. Of particular note are the almost glow-in-the-dark radiant Elaine Robinson as the badass and Phillip James Brannon as the bitter-sassy one. Yet in the second half, playwright Rosen (adapting his 1995 film) loses his nerve. When a right-wing talk-show host whose clips we've seen on TV sets mounted above (first-rate video work by Lucas Merino) becomes the students latest guest, he unsettles them with a speech on the necessity of opposing viewpoints. The point: In only hearing themselves, they've become like their enemies. Rosen in effect equates a structural similarity between two extremes with their moral equivalence: Dismissing an antigay, pro-AIDS priest gets likened to the priest's own one-sidedness. So we're served a cop-out relativism that the comedy initially promises to complicate. Still, until those last bites, Supper more than satisfies" - Novid Parsi, TimeOut Chicago 9/21/06

"In Dan Rosen's black comedy, based on his 1995 film, he imagines a band of no-longer-passive liberals who discover a means of political survival of the fittest: they invite blowhard right-wingers and fascist pundits over for dinner and, if they can't convince these homophobes, misogynists, Holocaust deniers, puritans, and racial supremacists they're wrong, they off them. (If only someone had done the same for Hitler in 1921.) InFusion Theatre Company's U.S. premiere, directed by Mitch Golob, is a fascinating study in rationalized extremism and self-righteousness. Reminiscent of Sweeney Todd, Arsenic and Old Lace, and the 2004 film Mean Creek, this is a play that dares an audience to take sides--and take the consequences" - Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Reader 9/26/06

"Infusion Theatre Company’s production of Dan Rosen’s “The Last Supper” is a delicious, witty, full course delight. This updated version of Rosen’s 1995 black comedy film, starring Cameron Diaz, Bill Paxton and Ron Perlman, contains biting, humorous references to many contemporary tragedies—both in the political spectrum and on the sublimely ridiculous level of Paris Hilton. After accidentally killing an opinionated backwoods war vet, five liberal grad students embark on a plan to rid the world of future Hitler types. Each invites a potential harm-doer to dinner. The person is questioned and if determined to be beyond hope, killed by being given poisoned wine. This set-up allows the supporting actors playing the victims to shine. The initial victim, played by Kyle Hatley, allows us to see beyond his harsh expletives to witness the soft underbelly of his pain. Blair Robertson perfectly masters the terrain of an awkwardly determined schoolgirl while Kevin Stark displays the tensely comic neuroses that comprise his woman dismissing character. Doug James, as an anti-left crusader with surprising undertones and James Farraggio as a kindly, gardening cop give the crown performances of the piece. The actors playing the students also give detailed, connected performances. They have the tough job of making the absurdness of their actions constantly believable. Admirably, they rise to the challenge, even when the script belies their efforts. Geoff Rice playing Peter, the least defined role, gives a deft and believably comic performance. Elaine Robinson and Lois Mathilda Atkins’ characters start out at opposite ends of the character spectrum and, skillfully, switch loyalties as the action becomes more and more outlandish. They provide the honey and spice, allowing the production to truly flourish and grow. Director Mitch Golob keeps things moving at a quick clip and is ably supported by his brilliant production team. Every dinner prop is believable and the sun shines through the windows in afternoon scenes as if it were true daylight. Stylistically, the comic one-liners in the production are priceless and covered in the syrup of bitter truth. Ultimately, though, you will not leave this production remembering just them. You will leave examining your own reality and realizing, once again, how hard it is to tell right from wrong in these wary political times. You will be reminded, once again, how easy it is to be conned by a devil even when you are at your most determined and true. For these revelations, alone, “The Last Supper” is vital theater and not to be missed" - Brian Kirst, Chicago Free Press 10/13/06

Dan Rosen

Mitch Golub

Lois Atkins, Phillip Brannon, Madison Dirks, Jim Farruggio, Kyle Hatley, Doug James, Geoff Rice, Blair Robertson, Elaine Robinson, Ed Smarmon, Kevin Stark

Video Designer - Lucas Merino; Costume Designer - Amy Gabbert; Production Manager - Jimmy Binns; Prop Designer - Bridgette O'Connor; Stage Manager- Tara Malpass; Dramaturg- Joe Tracz; Set Designer- Grant Sabin; Fight Choreographer- David Woolley; Lighting Designers - Charlie Cooper & Michael Smallwood; Casting Director - Matt Miller (at TP&R Casting); Sound Designer- Shawne Benson; and Publicist/PR: Karin McKie

Tags: Theater, American, 2006