Reviewed – 20th November 2019
“Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time”
Preparing to slaughter and eat a person for mutual pleasure and fulfilment is a fundamentally awkward affair, when you think about it. And Edward Stone, Pedro Leandro and Evan Lordan have really thought about it. Fiji, written by the trio and directed by Lordan, is inspired loosely by the story of Armin Meiwes who, in 2001, famously ate a willing volunteer in Germany – Fiji is not a retelling but is more of an admiring sequel to Armin’s story. Nick (Stone) and Sam (Leandro) meet online to consume and be consumed in Croydon (of all places) – but the story becomes a sort of charming rom-com with cannibalistic horror stuffed into its deep crevices.
Sam has travelled to Nick’s flat so that Nick can eat his entire body over two weeks – there’s no secret or mystery about their intentions which adds a pregnant, awful and comic irony to every scene. Little occurs as the two go through a crescendoing weekend together, knowing that it will only culminate cannibally. Intertwined with these two days of getting-to-know-you talk, is Sam and Nick’s final conversation which is split up and scattered through earlier scenes. In this last conversation, they each answer a series of questions designed to foster and build intimacy through vulnerability – with the answers as poignant interludes in a show which otherwise has the energy of How I Met Your Other cut with America’s Most Wanted.
Stone, Leandro and Lordan thread the needle expertly with their dialogue and the characters it conjures. The joking, banter and affection of cannibal and his future meal have great poise and keep the relationship grounded and relatable. It’s not horrific, but equally, it’s not especially sentimental. Standing as a testament to the cleverness of the writers was one strange moment – when Sam fled just before the butcher’s knife, instead of celebrating, one audience member cooed with disappointment and heartbreak that the characters had fallen out!
The set is simple with plain white chairs and a table making up the canvas. A little prop comedy wasn’t below the threesome with a box full of meat cleavers and paring knives being used to tease out a few extra laughs. The lighting choices help to separate out the jokes and dating of Sam and Nick’s ‘normal’ conversation from their intimate question answering. Humble choices in the set and lighting design help to keep the characters in focus and give the show a deserved grown-up feel.
This cheeky little play asks you to laugh at the point where the horrific meets the banal. When you ask a man-eater if he’s vegetarian or refer to someone as the ‘Obama of Cannibals’ it’s clear that we’re already in a very strange and a very original place. The characters are loveable and fun – Edward Stone’s performance is the foundation, but Pedro Leandro’s performance slowly builds as it becomes both more lovable and more encrypted. Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time.
Reviewed by William Nash
Photography by Jonathan Oldfield
Omnibus Theatre until 24th November
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: