A "teaser cow" is a fake cow used to collect sperm from prime bulls, in order to inseminate as many cows as possible, a human improvement upon nature's whimsy. In the myth of the Minotaur, Minos' wife Pasiphaë has Dædalus construct a similar tease to ease her deity-inflicted passion for a bull. Clay McLeod Chapman's new play teaser cow takes these ideas and mixes the myth of the Minotaur with Fast Food Nation to create a viscerally thrilling piece of work.
The play appropriately starts with a commercial for Minos Beef- in this world, Greece is home to tons of Minos' fast-food restaurants, with Minos (Gregory Waller) the head of all. His wife Pasiphaë (Sarah-Jane Casey) has indeed given birth to a minotaur with the help of a midwife (Babis Gousias). Though the truth has been covered up, a kiddie version of the Minotaur has become the corporate symbol of the company, impersonated in foam rubber by The Royal "We" (Jim Kane). Minos' daughter Ariadne (Christina Bennett Lind) works the drive-in window at one of daddy's eateries, where she meets handsome bad boy Theseus (Danny Bernardy), who while seducing her, has plans to take down the company. Meanwhile Dædalus (Nick Flint) has turned his inventive nature from teaser cows to developing new flavors for the company. All the performers also play fast food worker drones, when not in their main roles.
The play is strangely episodic, with scenes jumping around in time, and switching from various modes of presentation- random bursts of song-and-dance, alternating extensive monologues with full cast scenes, sometimes a comedic family drama, other times a story about the hubris of a doomed burger king, and yet other times a pedagogic diatribe about the evils of corporate fast food and beef production; it's sometimes difficult to follow exactly what's going on. I was never sure just how much the public actually knew about the minotaur, nor even (I suspect deliberately) what era we were supposed to be in. Though it is occasionally chaotic and confusing, the mix of ideas and style keeps the audience on their toes, and the resultant jumble of a play is one of the most interesting pieces I've seen in ages.
There is fine acting across the board, especially from Kane, Casey, Lind and Bernardy. The direction by Ianthe Demos is accomplished. I must give special note here to the technical aspects of the show, which are simply astounding- Lights by Mike Riggs, Set by James Hunting, Costumes by Kay Lee, Sound/music by Nathan Leigh, Video by Nick Flint, and Illustration/Animation by Chloe Benetatos all combine to create a fully believable fast food world.
by Clay McLeod Chapman
One Year Lease Theater Company
Teatro Circulo (64 E. 4th St)
January 14-February 4, 2010
Wednesdays-Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays at 3pm
Tickets: $18 and can be purchased online at by calling (212) 352-3101 or visiting www.oneyearlease.org.
Photo Credit: Amanda Culp
- Jim Kane
- The cast