Theatre ReviewsTom Williams


Written and Directed by  Stephen Louis Grushadore by stephen louis grush

Produced by XIII Pocket

As part of Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep Visiting Company Initiative

Horrifying tale of masochism and cannibalism awaits

I guess any topic–and I mean any topic is ripe for the stage no matter how disgusting the subject matter. XIII Pocket theatre troup has mounted Stephen Louis Grush’s Adore-as part of the Garage Rep Visiting Company Initiative now in a rotating repertory with punkplay and The Twins Would Like to Say.

adore by stephen louis grush

Grush uses film to augment the live stage work. Too bad most of the film was  shot out of focus, grainy and deliberately surreal. The play, a two-hander, was told from both character’s point of view. Grush tries to make each man’s case for why they did atrocious acts of brutality.   The work is a glimpse into the minds of two psychotic sexual perverts.  I’m amazed that Grush found the subject matter stage worthy. I wonder who the audience is for such theatre?

adore by stephen louis grush

Here is a synopsis of Adore: Armin Miwes (Eric Leonard) is a self confessed cannibal. Really, he loves to eat human flesh and he strongly desires to ‘consume’ a man as the ultimate act of love. He wants his love to always be with him–and consuming him will accomplish just that. He tells us that he has had that desire since he was a child.  All he needs is a willing victim.

Bernd Jergen Brandes (Paige Smith) is a rich businessman, a closet gay man with a young lover yet he finds normal gay sex unfulfilled.  He tries masochism (An abnormal condition in which sexual satisfaction is largely derived from abuse or physical pain.). The more pain–the more intense the sex.  Bernd tells of hiring hustler boys to administer pain through beatings–their rage and hatred fuels Bernd’s pain and sexual pleasure.  However, over time, Bernd needs more pain to heighten his sexual needs. He strongly wants someone to castrate him then slit his throat in order to reach the ultimate sexual pleasure.

He and Armin meet on a chat room on the Internet. They bond and express their needs and desires over months of online chat. Eventfully, the agree to meet. Armin comes to Berlin to take Bernd to Armin’s country home where he has made a torture chamber complete with chains  and cutting tools.

The two middle aged perverts shyly meet as each can’t wait for the ‘acts of love’ to be fulfilled. This incredible story is told by each pervert in a matter of fact manner as each strive to justify their desires and actions. We get a scary glimpse into the deranged minds of two sickos. This one act runs only 70 minutes without intermission.

The graph details and the nonchalance presented by Eric Leonard and Paige Smith was made more scary by their lack of emotion. They believe their actions were acts of pure love.  How sick! Keep in mind that this was a true story.  As a theatrical work, Adore could use better film quality yet its somewhat compelling just like a car wreck–we can’t not look despite the horrors.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Garage Rep plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; with a 3-show marathon at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the following Sundays:  April 11, 18 and 25. Call for what play is on for as given date

Tickets for Garage Rep cost $20 per play. Student tickets are available for $12 and every Wednesday performance is “pay what you can.” A three-play pass is available for $45. Group discounts are available by calling (312) 932-2422

6 thoughts on “Adore

  • Chrissy Weissman

    How Sick??!!
    That actually appeared in your review…
    I think it’s painfully clear that you have a very real bias against the subject matter, and that’s ok… but this wasn’t an accurate review. The film was only grainy as it was fading out. I thought the stage actors interacting with the film actors was really innovative, and incredibly compelling… I’ve never seen that, and it opened up possibilities for me.
    Yes, the subject matter is difficult, however, I attended the show on Sunday (a friend recommended it) and I thought the show was absolutely captivating. And… well… I got it. No, I don’t want to eat my lover. However, I understood…
    Many years ago… much of our population thought it was absolutely sick (How Sick!) that a black man and a white woman wanted to get married. These days, we’re debating gay marriage ad nauseum. Thankfully… writers like Edward Albee (who tackled bestiality in The Goat), and Stephen Grush allow us a glimpse into lives unlike our own. We are forced to question appropriate love… Who provides this definition for us?
    And at the end of the day… does it matter? I don’t know the answer to that…
    What I do know is that the play affected me… it was sad.
    You wondered how Stephen Grush could have thought the subject matter was stage worthy… however, might I point out that this happened. There is a man rotting away in jail for doing something that came naturally… if that’s not stage worthy… what is? Arts refects life? Or is it the other way around? I always forget that one…

  • Michael Story

    I agree with the above comment. It was compelling, and difficult, and innovative.

    Wish more theatre critics had open minds. Almost frightening that you wrote How Sick. And you supposedly see theatre for a living.

  • I do see many shows (over 300 each year for the last 7 years) and I must say that the subject matter in Adore is troubling at best. I guess I’m finding out who the audience is for this show.

  • Cindy Rickert

    Troubling yes. I’ll agree.
    However, I feel the audience is there. I was looking for reviews today and I was surprised by the reaction of the critics. I think the play does put a human face to pathology. We can’t merely dismiss them as monsters. It also questions the affect the Internet has on our lives. Does the Internet feed this behavior?

  • “Critic”- you spelled Meiwes incorrectly. And Jürgen.

    I would agree with Chrissy. I have yet to see the production but think it’s a fascinating story about a consensual act of love and the right to be in control of ones own body.

  • So your only substantial criticism is that “the subject matter is troubling” and the video is grainy? Are you kidding? What a bizarre review.

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