Road Eats: Humana Festival of New American Plays

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Actor's Theater of Louisville's Humana Festival is an event I've been enthusiastically attending every year for nearly a decade. This past long weekend, I enjoyed four days, four plays and more great bourbon, food and fun than a person ought to consume in a month--I'll probably be convalescing from it all week.

Rude Mechanicals' The Method Gun (image courtesy Rude Mechanicals) was the first play I saw this year. It was a sort of meta play within an anti-play about an experimental acting troupe endlessly rehearsing their version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (performed with only the play's secondary characters). The raucous result was a Charlie Kaufmann-esque exercise in twisted and overlapping narratives with a bit of Tom Stoppard-esque textual inquiries thrown in--a lot of fun.

Unexpected surprises: (1) a man-eating tiger used as a surreal plot device and the inclusion of this joke: "Two tigers are eating a clown. One tiger turns to the other and asks, 'Does this taste funny to you?'" The reason this momentarily stunned me is because a book I just finished-- Jonathan Lethem's weed-hazed "Chronic City" also featured a surreal man-eating tiger (loose in an alternate-reality New york City) and that very same joke!!; (2) Prancing about to the groovy tune "Dancing in the Moonlight" were two nude guys with helium balloons tied to their, uh, "johnsons." They each, uh, achieved "liftoff"!

Proof on Main restaurant located in the 21C Hotel and Museum is where I dashed off to afterwards for cocktails, snacks and the next play (more on that later).

I've already written about this wonderful facility in an Alive travel piece about Louisville a few years ago (read it here), and, again, I wholeheartedly recommend it (though it's no longer the hottest dining spot in town--more on that later). Here are some muchies I had--and positively loved (apologies for the bad photos--it was dark in there!):

Chickpea and Ham Fritters-- simultaneously homey and cheffy.

From Proof's "Charcutiere and Cheese" selection (Rabbit and Pistachio Pate, Pork Jowl terrine, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar--all spectacular!)

Proof Bison Burger-- it was super juicy and perfectly seared to medium rare, made with locally raised critters and served with great hand-cut fries.

One of my regular Louisville/Humana Fest accomplices is my sister Gigi, who after finishing the last of our knockout Bison Marrow Bones snack (with a brilliant salty and citric counterpoint rub) posed for this picture.

After this munch, we attended our second play of the night--a wild, nothing-like-it, interactive, multi-site-specific piece that started at the tipsy hour of 11 p.m. and took place in 21c's galleries as well as other buildings nearby (drinks were "encouraged'). It was called "Heist!" and, among other things, was an over-the-top comedy about contemporary art, gender and the many roles authority figures play in our lives. Hard to describe, "Heist!" entailed splitting up in groups, constant movement, plenty of improvised action/interaction and a lot of barely controlled chaos!