Review: Adore. By Brian Kirst
The true story of German cannibal, Armin Meiwes, and his lover-victim, Bernd Jurgen Brandes, has long fascinated the horror film crowd. Brett Leonard’s Feed (2005) explored physically obsessive love (and even featured an opening scene of a man frying another’s genitals) and Marian Dora’s Cannibal (2006) addressed the true story, involving Meiwes and Brandes’ brief meeting real life meeting and eventual consummation in March of 2001, in a more direct manner. Now with Adore, the talented and eclectic writer-director, Stephen Louis Grush, re-imagines this controversial story for the stage, as a part of the Garage Rep series at Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf. While plenty of audiences (and critics) seem more disturbed by the story’s details than anything else (Meiwes cut off the willing Brandes’ penis and tried to help him eat it – including a disastrous try at cooking it up like a gourmet meal), Grush himself keeps his sympathies firmly with his protagonists-bringing about an understanding of the two, that all previous attempts (including a hilarious look at the incident on the British series, The IT Crowd) simply haven’t managed.
In a series of plain spoken, no frills monologues we discover the inner life of both Meiwes (including youthful love letters to a local slaughterhouse) and Brandes (highlighted by the stern businessman’s natural desire to be bodily desecrated) and are treated to their quick meeting and brief courtship. That Grush treats their desires as a natural part of their being (akin to being gay or bisexual- or a horror film lover, let’s say) and something they simply can’t help truly makes the duo, if not exactly admirable, at least relatable to anyone who has felt a bit different from the crowd.
Highlighted by multi-media videos, photography and the occasional metallic Goth tune for atmosphere, actors Eric Leonard and Paige Smith, simply and precisely present their characters ultimately making Adore one of the most interesting and quietly beguiling pieces of theater in quite some time.
(Adore runs through April 25th in Steppenwolf’s Garage Theater Space.)