Tellin’ Tales Theatre’s latest production, Food for Thought is described as a collection of epicurean solo performances about indulgences and dieting. Each performer had a unique perspective, often comical and occasionally profound, to share about their relationship with food. As a consummate food lover who battles with indulgences and diets herself, I felt compelled to attend and revel in the comraderie.
First Course– Hello Jell-O begins with the intimate space of an old 50’s style kitchen and a woman, Beth Ann Bryant, telling us about how people love to feed her husband. Her reflections on his cooking disasters, and her bemusement over how she inadvertently fell in to the position of head household cook, are probably familiar to a lot of the female population, but what is most transcendent about her monologue is when she reflects on her grandmother’s cooking and her memories as a child put to work with her army of cousins helping out on harvest day as her aunts and mother assisted in putting up the vegetables. Beth Ann’s leaping from those vivid memories to how we got to packaged food products as a time saver for the modern woman is jarring and entertaining, especially when she presents us with real visuals of the types of time-savers her mother attempted. Overall, the scope of her monologue is perhaps too ambitious for a short piece and could be expanded to describe the evolution of the housewife’s role in America. In the end ,with skillful directing from Amy Eaton, she presents a compelling perspective on our attitudes about food.
Second Course–A Picky Eater. Rosemary Postula was next up in the kitchen and happy to describe her life growing up as a skinny only child in an Italian household where food is the whole point of life. Her mother frets over her lack of appetite with anyone who will listen, and the cast of iconic supporting family members all chime in to try to fatten her up. Rosemary beautifully channels her mother’s flippant air towards authority, her curmudgeonly family doctor and her mother’s crass talking, card playing friends to the extent that it feels like a one-woman play rather than a monologue. Meanwhile, we come to appreciate Rosemary’s cultural food experiences along with her. What a joy it must have been for Andrew Theis to direct this piece.
Third Course-Tekki Lomnicki is chained to the fridge for most of her performance in Hungry Heart, directed by Sarah Burnside. She is plagued by the sweetly supportive voice of her Weight Watcher’s counselor resonating in her head as she tries to battle her frequent hunger and cravings. She ruminates on her weaknesses, buoys herself up, celebrates her past successes and succumbs to temptations all the while juxtaposing the flaws of her previous Weight Watchers counselors with the merits of her current one. That is until her indiscretions get out of control and her new low flings her in to a state of mind required for the epiphany all dieters search for in their weight loss journey. Tekki ‘s hilarious look at the futile struggles of a person facing overweight status is at times poignant as well as indicative of a culture that would wave chicken and waffle chips around at a work place just to torment our souls.
Palate Cleansers– Each night’s performance offers a different palate cleanser act with a roster of seasoned performers presenting their food fancies and nightmares. July 11th was Jim Sweeny, July 12th was Anne Purky, July 13th was Erin Kahoe, July 18th will host Maia Morgan, the 19th will host Mark Schab and the 20th will finish up the production with Jill Howe.
Food for Thought will be at the Prop theater July 11-20th.