Lobster and Lamb : KML dishes out a full-length play
Originally published by SF Weekly June 7, 2006
©2006 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.
By Chloe Veltman
A few weeks ago, the producers of the world premiere of Bay Area playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s dark comedy Hunter Gatherers invited John Chakan, a lamb-slaughtering expert from Plantation Farm Camp in Sonoma County, to a production meeting. According to co-producer Marc Vogl, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound butcher strode into the room with a massive insulated bag filled with slabs of meat and proceeded to instruct the assembled cast, director, and other collaborators in the art of lamb slaughtering. “He came to tell us how to stun the baby lamb before killing it and how best to slice the neck and let the blood drain,” said Vogl. “He took cuts of meat out of his bag to show us the correct texture, look, and feel of properly slaughtered lamb.”
With the exception, perhaps, of productions of Sweeney Todd, this carnivorous kind of show-and-tell is a rarity in the nonprofit theater world. Yet with the eating of meat on stage being such a pivotal part of the action in Hunter Gatherers, Chakan’s lesson proved to be useful to the artists involved in the production, the first ever full-length drama to be staged by the peripatetic sketch comedy/film/short-play company, Killing My Lobster.
An exploration of the Neanderthal in us all, Hunter Gatherers begins as a sophisticated urban hipster dinner party and gradually erodes into a primeval bone-dance of wrestling, sex, and — you guessed it — animal sacrifice. When Pam and Richard invite their longtime friends, Wendy and Tom, to dinner, the light atmosphere soon thickens with buried secrets and covert rivalries. As the evening progresses, the members of “the Fab Four,” as the cozy clique likes to refer to itself, question the hand that fate — and their respective spouses — has dealt them. It’s not exactly The Flintstones, but you could say we’re dealing with a modern stone-age family.
At the end of the meeting with Chakan, the play’s producers realized that they’d need a lot of lamb for the production’s month-long run. “The actors hack at chunks of meat with their bare hands throughout the show,” Vogl explained. Luckily, Chakan came to the rescue: He’s become Hunter Gatherers’ official lamb sponsor.
Date/Time: Through July 9
The Thick House
1695 18th St. (at Arkansas)
San Francisco, CA