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  The Tasters at Rivendell Theatre

The Tasters

Rivendell Theatre
5775 N. Ridge Avenue Chicago

With so many government leaders getting poisoned these days, the Tasters have a critical job to do. They sample mouthwatering gourmet meals...then wait to see if they die in agony. When government forces capture renowned resistance leader Elyse, they make her a Taster and assume they've won. But Elyse has a plan of her own, which kicks off a series of events that might just alter the course of history...and put all the other Tasters' lives at risk.

Thru - Feb 16, 2020

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-334-7728

  The Tasters Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...At its best, "The Tasters" confronts audiences with the kind of questions we all hope we never have to answer. Elyse insists that "complacency is complicity." Bianca insists "It's stupid to be brave" and "better to be safe." It's tough to say who has the high ground: The heroic revolutionary who has caused countless collateral deaths (Bianca's entire family among them) in the name of a cause that might have been lost from the outset? The pregnant woman whose mere survival is a form of rebellion? In "The Tasters," the enemies are clear, as is their ability to sow doubt and division in anyone who questions them."
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Catey Sullivan

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Broad depictions lambasting the overzealous passion of idealogues, alongside some unusual design choices, lend some scrappiness to the production that amplifies the excesses of allegorical theater. At times, those choices make for an odd pairing with Brown's dialogue and story, but The Tasters is the good kind of messy—creatively outlandish and guaranteed to leave inquisitive audiences with a lot to chew over."
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Dan Jakes

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Smoothly directed by Devon de Mayo on a set by Yeaji Kim that also allow for amazing projections ( designed by Kim as well) with lighting by Heather Sparling and sound by Hannah Sparling this production moves quickly. The food properties design ( a new classification for the Jeff Awards?) is done by Mary O’Dowd and everything looks amazing. Do not come hungry as you will get even more so. The intimacy and fight design ( we see more of this of late) is by Jreika Guest and Zachariah Payne."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"...“The Tasters” has its plot holes and motivational lapses. As nasty as the General is, would he really subject the mother of his unborn child to the dangers and terrors of being a taster? And not every audience member will applaud the resistance’s shift in tactics from broad-based civil disobedience to conspiratorial coup d’etat, which suggests a “change” from one lawless and violent regime to another. But this well-executed production makes its central point—that it’s no longer possible to avoid choosing sides—with devastating clarity. “The Tasters” mirrors the current moment, and the story it tells, which not long ago would have seemed far fetched, now feels disturbingly like our own."
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Hugh Iglarsh

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This dystopian drama by Meghan Brown is very powerful. It's filled with mystery, tension, strong characters and a compelling story that stirs the imagination. This finely-paced, 90-minute production has been beautifully directed by Devon de Mayo, chocked full of suspense and startling surprises. The production offers several especially seductive performances that drive this fatalistic tale to its exhilarating conclusion, leaving each audience with much to think about."
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Colin Douglas

The Hawk Chicago - Recommended

"...Despite being packaged as a run-of-the-mill dystopian nightmare, the theming and focus of this story are relevant and demand to be seen. If you can pardon the forced story beats, this is a very powerful piece that may inspire you to pick up a sign and join the revolution."
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Ryan Moore

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...The script of The Tasters has flaws, but it is still a timely exploration of the role of the individual in a fascistic society. As our own nation veers more and more in the direction of autocracy and even impeaching the President results in what can justly be termed a kangaroo court, it can appear that nothing anyone can do can truly effect any positive change. But Brown’s play suggests that, ultimately, a lot does indeed depend on each of us. We can choose to be the victims of those who care more about their own security than the country they are supposed to be leading, or we can try to do something about it. And that “something” isn’t going to be found on a computer screen."
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Karen Topham

TotalTheater - Highly Recommended

"...Except for the uniforms (military vs. civilian dress), totalitarian governments in plays are depicted the same from Brecht to Havel, so the oppressors whose machinations are reported in casual hearsay are represented onstage by a single generically egotistical high-ranking officer and a single likewise generically spineless lackey. This leaves the bulk of the dramatic action to the internees, whose pschodynamics are rendered spellbinding by the ensemble-style performances of Shariba Rivers and Danielle Pereira. playing the intrepid counselors to Ramirez' ambivalent mother-to-be. This is a trio that rivets our attention for 90 suspenseful minutes, despite the sly distractions of award-winning property designer Mary O'Dowd's mouth-watering culinary arrangements."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Brown's script might fall flat if it weren't for the performances of this pro cast. Slater has the task-and aces it, in this writer's view-of making an almost cartoonish character come to life with nuance. Rivers electrifies, even silently, as she shifts her focus inwards or out. Rice's Lt Sawyer is a compellingly cringe-worthy weak everyperson. Pereira's hysterical cult persona would make her a star in any Moonie gathering. Ramirez peels away the layers in Bianca's character seamlessly. Brown couldn't have wished for more than these superb performances-all- and the director's touches by Devon de Mayo. Of special note to lovers of scenic and projection design is Jeaji Kim's moving video backdrop telegraphing the characters' inner lives, and what seems like an uber-subversive touch of decorating the cell with what reminds of antiquity artifacts stolen from museums and world heritage sites."
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Amy Munice

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