I saw ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at the local theater this weekend. Such a fun and quirky musical. It runs two more weekends, and the cast really does do an incredible job. If you’re a local, go see it. It’s silly and wonderful… but I think there’s something more to the story as well.
If you’ve not seen the musical (or the movie) the plot centers on a florist on Skid Row who is about to close up shop forever when his shop boy (Seymour) puts a unique plant in the window. The plant is so bizarre, it attracts notice as well as customers. The shop makes an economic turn for the better, and all is well… the only problem being that Seymour’s plant requires blood sacrifice in order to thrive. Audrey 2 (the plant) is able to articulate this need quite clearly as it commands Seymour to “FEED ME”.
There’s a lot of hunger in the show. The shop girl, Audrey, has an abusive dentist boyfriend who also, apparently requires blood sacrifice in order to survive. He collects this in the form of verbally and physically abusing Audrey. Audrey hungers for a boyfriend and a dream of an alternate reality where she’s a Donna Reed type. Mr. Mushnik, the shop owner hungers for financial stability… and Seymour hungers for a relationship with Audrey.
In each case, the hunger is consuming to the point of destruction of either self or others. In each case, the hunger ends with Audrey 2 being fed. And although we’re able to laugh through it all, we don’t heed the words of the (mostly digested) cast at the end as they implore us to ‘not feed the plant’.
And yet, we do, don’t we? Feed the plant? Slake our thirst and feed our hunger to the point where it consumes us (or others?). We feed our need to be right as well as our egos. We consume to the point where what we feast on deprives others of a decent meal. As a nation, we put our needs at the center of the universe, and require blood sacrifice of those around us so that we can drive our cars and buy whatever we ‘need’. FEED ME!
The musical doesn’t end happily. It is a cautionary tale, or perhaps even a morality play as it begs us: don’t feed it. Just don’t.