BWW Reviews: DELICIOUS REALITY Shares Tantalizing and Provocative Tales from LA's Restaurant Scene
Everyone loves a good meal, especially when someone else prepares it for you. But at a restaurant, do you ever think about who really cooks your meal and what they go through to prepare it for you? TeAda Productions partnered with two local organizations, Restaurant Opportunity Center Los Angeles (ROC-LA) and Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), to create DELICIOUS REALITY. a collaborative new performance piece that shares tantalizing and provocative tales from LA's restaurant scene.
This new performance piece is a result of workshops and story circles that brought artists, youth, and restaurant workers together to share their experiences in a safe space and explore the issues, conditions, and challenges working in today's restaurants. The multicultural ensemble mixes together a series of tasty images, stories, and mythology from the front and back of the house (the dining room and the kitchen) witha healthy dose of worker and immigrant perspectives.
Corky Dominguez directed the talented ensemble featuring Gloria Baraquio, Oakland Bautista, Kimiko Broder, Yayoi Hara, Cayetano Juarez, Christina Sanchez, Ova Saopeng and Amy Shu in many creative and thoroughly original explorations of the lives of everyday restaurant workers. In "Passion Rant Orchestra' the ensemble is conducted by a woman with what appeared to be chopsticks, each sharing their story when pointed to, stopping and starting their tale in rapid succession..
And I am still singing the highly entertaining "DR Ditty" which was performed to the tune of "Doo Waa Ditty Ditty' while tapping on or playing various kitchen utensils, pots and pans. I think the audience was having just as much fun as the actors onstage as we sang along with them.
Front and back of the house was brilliantly acted out in "Front of House - Back of House Senses Machine" with one central person sharing stories of life in the kitchen while the rest of the ensemble encircled that person, each acting out being a cog in a machine using one word or noise to accompany their movement. The camaraderie displayed how the workings of a kitchen staff must be a team effort, each piece contributing to the success of the end product as a whole.
Personal secrets of workers were shared in "Shush, It's a Secret" including a barista trying to figure out how to let a customer know her interest in getting to know him as more than a name written on a coffee cup, a bartender trying to hide her pregnancy as she contemplates how to get by without health insurance, Samantha a prep worker who chops vegetables all day while coveting the wonderful new knife given to her which she hides in her pocket so she can chop veggies for herself at home, Leticia the sandwich maker contemplating how to quit in a dramatic fashion, and Louisa the sommelier with the phony accent who admits she really knows little about wine but encourages customers to buy the most expensive varieties because she makes commission on everything she sells. Each of the women's stories was told so evocatively that I really felt privileged to hear their secrets and empathized with their plights.
Especially moving were a series of immigrant stories about coming to America from Japan, China, the Philippines, Mexico, and Laos with each person describing what it took to get here and how working in a restaurant became their new life. These led into the ensemble speaking of the gentrification of ethnic neighborhoods where these people work and how the intrusion of large warehouse stores offering food items threaten to take out locAl Small mom and pop restaurants created by these immigrants working hard to make life better for their families.
But then it was off to another game passing a tray of imaginary food, some laughter, and the deep-seated camaraderie ever-present in the back of the house.
DELICIOUS REALITY gives voice to the underprivileged restaurant workers in Los Angeles in a very entertaining and seriously eye-opening performance piece. I guarantee you will walk out with a new appreciation of those whose hands touch the food you eat. Congrats to the talented ensemble who got together just one month ago with no script and worked very organically together to create such a moving and entertaining tribute piece.