Feed the Monkey Offers Frenzy and Fun at the Ex

THEATER

Feed the Monkey makes no apologies. It doesn't moralize, and it's definitely not P.C.

Billed as a "farce of habits," the play is a wild, wicked foray into the World of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Tish and Dulcy (Jessica Fortunato and Jennifer Sun) are roommates and polar opposites. Tish is a laidback, fun-loving party animal with a heart of gold and remarkable resilience in the face of big guns, psychotic boyfriends, drug busts and inexplicably dead celebrities. Dulcy is a repressed yet ambitious rock columnist who is so jittery and uptight that it's amazing she doesn't crack under all the pressure she experiences as she chases down an interview with the untalkative rock superstar, Linus Crump (Evan Sandman).

Sandman, without question, steals the show as a music legend with clay feet. Linus Crump is a difficult role, probably the most complex in the play, and Sandman could easily have played the character as nothing more than an asshole. But he manages to humanize Linus, allowing the audience to actually empathize with a rich, spoiled rock star looking for a way to escape. Sandman provides a semi-serious counterpoint to Fortunato and Sun's comic antics.

The acting throughout the play is almost uniformly excellent. Even the supporting cast is funny--Colin Stokes, in particular, is fantastic as Gavin, a drug counselor just discovering the wonder of controlled substances. Bess Wohl, as T.V. reporter Corinne Le Mans, is irritating in her best scenes, flapping around the stage like a bird about to take flight, but gives the single funniest performance of the entire play after meeting "Lucy in the Sky."

Director Jane Nichols, from the American Repertory Theatre, shows a sure hand in keeping up the play's pace and controlling the sometimes frenetic energy. Although some comic moments blow by too quickly to appreciate, the timing is generally impressive and the endless entrances and exits are surprisingly well-synchronized. Also impressive is the vivid red, green and black set, designed by Derek McLane, which allows the cast to revolve in a whirlwind of pointless but comical activity.

Spring shows are going up at the rate of approximately 347 a weekend--it's understandable if you're having a little trouble deciding how to allocate your theatre time. So here's a little tip to help you prioritize: go see "Feed the Monkey" at the Loeb Ex. It has all the qualifications for a great show--it's funny, farcical, flippant and, of course, free.