The Biscuiteater is a perfectly charming show on its own merits, though at this socially tense point in history it has a certain timeliness in examining masculinity in the American South.
Performer/creator Jim Loucks pieces together a series of reminiscences to paint a largely autobiographical portrait of himself at a young age and the grandfather he adored. If (like me) the term ‘biscuiteater’ immediately makes you think of a dog, you’re not wrong – it refers to a hunting dog who runs at the sound of gunfire, so they usually end up beloved family pets. In the American South where physical strength, a ‘tough’ image, and the ability to effectively wield a firearm were (and still are) expected of men, the metaphor is an apt one. Even better, the relationship between young Jim and grandfather Elliott is one of respect on both sides – the young boy who wants to emulate the older man, and the grandfather who carefully guides the boy through his fears and anxieties without ever resorting to condescension or frustration.
In the current socio-political climate, this show becomes a sort of tonic – there’s a lot of anger over gun control (not too long ago a BB gun was considered a normal gift for boys) and intersectional feminism in the US, but nowhere are these issues more concentrated than the conservative South. To be treated to a show that reminds that there were (and still are) straight white cisgendered men in the South who take their privileged position in society seriously and concern themselves with being good people and setting a good example is reassuring in a time of increased ideological polarization.
The storyline could perhaps be more carefully delineated; all of the various anecdotes Loucks relates thematically fit but they don’t seem to be chronological or in any particular order that reinforces the parallelism between grandfather and grandson. At times Loucks’ physicality isn’t as clean as it could be: he plays both himself, grandfather, mother, and grandmother, while also telling the stories from his present perspectives, and at times it isn’t entirely clear which character he is impersonating. His storytelling abilities are still very strong, and if you’re a sucker for a smooth Southern accent then you’ll have a good time listening to Loucks.
The Biscuiteater has a lot of timely social relevance even if the dramatic structure occasionally seems a little unfocused. Come for the balanced look at mens’ social responsibilities, stay for the stories (and the accent).
Written and Performed by Jim Loucks
Produced by Deb Loucks
At Studio Léonard-Beaulne (Venue 4)