EATING RAOUL, Circle Theatre. This Forest Park company has in the past played host to some toothless, mildly campy satires--Satan's School for Girls, People Like Us. Which may be why they chose to do a musical version of Paul Bartel's cult film, the dark comedy Eating Raoul.
Why they thought they could best the movie's sly, subversive wit, however, is anybody's guess. No one in this cast comes close to equaling the fine comic acting in the film. In particular the two leads, Julie Cardia and Matthew Dunaway, can't hold a candle to Mary Woronov and Bartel himself in their killing portrayals of the film's protagonists, an uptight bourgeois couple who begin murdering and robbing the scum of LA to make enough money to open their dream restaurant.
Even a gifted cast, however, would have had trouble wringing comedy from this lifeless script. Bartel receives credit for the book--though it retains little of the screwball dialogue that makes the movie marvelous. And most of the show's forgettable songs, with music by Ted Feuer and lyrics by Boyd Graham, do little more than mark time between the killings, none of which seems as kooky onstage as it did on-screen. It's clear that Bartel and company were trying to create a camp musical hit a la Little Shop of Horrors, itself based on a low-budget cult-film classic. How far they missed the mark is all too apparent in Circle Theatre's dreary, endless, laughless comedy. --Jack Helbig