By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
As for audience whimsy, at the performance reviewed during the second week of the run, the number of bodies in the seats barely outnumbered the bodies onstage. Audience participation, therefore, was limited. And it felt like a fix was in anyway, that somehow most of the casting decisions had been predetermined to get the best actors assigned the biggest roles (perhaps because there was a critic in the house).
Not that it mattered much. Eat the Runt affords no one a really good part and offers little to the viewer except maybe the chance to grab a nap for 95 minutes. Playwright Avery Crozier, trying for comedy, seems to be doing a satirical number on the inner workings of big-city art museums. But it's lame stuff that loses momentum shortly after the lights go up.
The play's main character, a young intellectual named Merritt (all the roles carry gender-neutral monickers), is seen going through a rigorous series of interviews for the job of grants coordinator. From office to office he (or she) travels. With each interviewer, Merritt manages to zero in on exactly what that person wants to hear--from the finer points of Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism to the sexual release of a really deep foot massage.
Eat the Runt continues through October 1 at The Corner Theatre in DeSoto, 214-641-9993.
When Merritt's roommate, also named Merritt, shows up and claims to be the real applicant, not Merritt No. 1, who might be some sort of psycho actor playing a bad prank, high jinks are supposed to ensue. But Eat the Runt can manage only low-jinks, with bad jokes about menstruation and sight gags built around a woman who makes cheese from human breast milk.
It's always a bit sad to watch decent actors wasting their time and talent in diddly-squat shows like this. Runt's company of players includes young Brian Witkowicz, who's done good work in roles at Dallas Children's Theater, and Ginger Goldman, a comic firecracker who was dandy as Annelle in Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Steel Magnolias recently. They played the pair of Merritts on the night reviewed and did all they could not to make the play suck more than it had to--something their four other castmates didn't work hard enough at. Joel McDonald, who was in Theatre Three's Metamorphoses and Theatre Britain's Macbeth, also is in the lineup for the show but was out sick. Wise move.