Theatre in Review

Wednesday, 02 August 2017 12:14

"The Food Show" a unique take on cooking

As a cook and a big fan of Ina Garten, I was excited to see “The Food Show” on opening night by The Neo-Futurists theatre. The main plot of the story is about family, which is brilliantly defined through cooking. Rather than hold the show at the Neo-Futurium, there was a last-minute change in location as the theatre company is partnering with Metropolitan Brewing in Avondale. 

Upon entering the venue, we were greeted by gentleman who offered us a beer before heading to our bleacher-like seats, similar to what one would find in a football stadium or gymnasium. Yes, this was going to be a different theatre experience.

As we sat down, I noticed Tif Harrison kneading some dough that will later be used to make pasta, which was interesting to watch in itself – and pleasantly strange. I was also happy to see Spencer Meeks who starred in “We Are Going to Die” at Den Theatre earlier this year, who puts on yet another steady performance in this very unusual, yet entertaining, production. The play is divided into seven sections with an opening by Kyra Sims who was visiting from New York. 

One of the most identifiable performers in “The Food Show” is Oliver Camacho who happens to be a chef in his days before acting. He is easy to connect with and, in this particular performance, made what looked to be a perfectly seared salmon. Bilal Dardai is another intriguing character impressed upon the audience who engagingly talks about Islamic constraints of eating pork and his kid's food allergies. 

I want to be clear. The style of cooking in “The Food Show” is not refined like that you would see Ina Garten cooking up in her Hamptons home. Actors before cooking professionals, these chefs were a bit messy and their chopping skills (sorry, Bilal) need some help. But that is all part of the fun in “The Food Show”. After getting past the fact that we are not watching Gordon Ramsay, it’s easy to appreciate what the play really is - sharing life experiences over food and reflecting on where our food comes from. 

The Neo-Futurists' “The Food Show” is being performed at 3031 North Rockwell, right next to the Metropolitan Brewing. Tickets range from $10-$25 and can be purchased at www.neofuturists.org. The show will be playing until September 2nd. My tip to those planning to see this production - wear something light and breezy as there is no air conditioning in the warehouse. 

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Redletter is the latest creation by the Neo-Futurists, this piece written by ensemble member Lisa Buscani and directed by Jen Ellison.  As Buscani puts it, “Everyone’s bemoaning about the ‘death of news’. But the news will never die, not as long as humans do newsworthy things.” That’s true…to a point as we see in Redletter when a news team covers a burrito.

Redletter hits on many media related issues such as how the rise of technology has affected the way news is delivered over the years, the mistakes in reporting and transferring the news along with the corrections that go unnoticed (if corrections are even made), the silly stories that have now become news, story oversaturation and the manipulation of media - it’s cause and effect. What you get in Redletter are samples of each while each issue is worthy of its own story and then some. As a viewer I felt a bit teased by the multiple issues brought to the table rather than watching a story that solely focuses on any of the above mentioned subjects. It’s mentioned at one point that a reporter is asked to make up the news leaving hope that corporate and government media manipulation would be addressed in depth, but instead the story jumps back to another questionable form of news delivery. Still, it’s nice to see attention paid to these unethical media practices that go unnoticed by many due to laziness, ignorance, complacency or simply the belief that our trusted news carriers would never purposely dupe the public. Kudos to Buscani for taking the initiative to tackle such a brave subject.

In true Neo-Futurist fashion we get a nice blend of witty humor and subject matter that we can take home and think about afterwards. Buscani is joined by ensemble members Bilal Dardai, Trevor Dawkins, Lindsay Muscato and Thea Lux who together combine for a very amusing cast, each contributing their own unique comic talent to collectively create a smart amalgam of absurd fun. Projections are plenty used in adding oomph to the show’s story including a comical montage of 1970s Robert Redford who Buscani sees as a real media man.

Trevor Dawkins steals much of the show with his genius transformation into his dad, an overly exaggerated portrayal of a hard-nosed CBS news man from the early 1980s who can be found partying at night in the clubs living it up with cocaine and Jack Daniels, but can also just as easily be found at his own “pity party”. Dawkins performance is as energetic as it is hilarious receiving one belly laugh after another from the crowd and in itself is a good enough reason the see Redletter: The News Done Medium Well.  

The bottom line is this play has plenty of funny moments, and though Redletter might be trying to cram in too many issues at once with news and media, it does raise awareness to this important subject and makes us question what we deem as “news” and question the trust that we so often blindly put in the hands of “professional broadcasters and writers”.  

Redletter is playing at The Neo-Futurarium through March 28th Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm and tickets are very reasonable at just $20 ($10 for students and seniors). For tickets and/or more information visit www.neofuturists.org or call (773) 275-5255. 

*Photo - Trevor Dawkins

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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