BWW Review: AN EMPTY PLATE AT THE CAFE DU GRAND BOEUF - a Bountiful Feast
By Michael Hollinger
February 17, 2013 at 7:00P.M.
If you enjoy both comedy and drama, with an intriguing storyline that keeps you guessing, "What's next?", then you must see "An Empty Plate at the Cafe Du Grand Boeuf", now playing at the freeFall Theatre, in St. Petersburg through February 17th.
The intimate freeFall theatre offers a picture-perfect setting for this serio-comedy. As an audience, you can't help, but be captivated by the intellectual, dry humor of the storyline; brought to life by the brilliant direction and casting by Eric Davis.
As you enter the theatre, you are immediatly transported to 1961, in a fine Parisian restaurant, with French chanteuse, Edith Piaf singing in the background. A lovely, scrolled, arched entrance, reveals a beautiful art deco, stained glass window. On the opposite end are double doors to the kitchen. The artistically painted, tiled flooring, is the perfect pedestal to three, linen covered dining tables and chairs, centered on the stage. There is an elegant, wheeled serving cart, center, topped with china and crystal. And...there is candelight.
When Victor, (the restaurant owner), arrives on a return trip from Spain, he announces to his staff that he wishes to die...of starvation. The staff persuades Victor to allow them to cook his one final meal, to be left in the kitchen, as the maitre d' describes each course to him, while being served a series of empty plates.
You will have to find out what happens next...
This is a FIVE STAR production! And the cast is supurb!
Patrick Ryan Sullivan gives a rivoting performance in the demanding role of the well-educated, cultured, Victor. He handles both the dramatic and comedic dialogue with great aplomb.
Matthew McGee lives the role of Claude, the over-bearing Maitre d'. Mr. McGee as an actor, is a master of comic timing and he knows how to precisely and honestly use his physical comedy as well, without ever being slapstick. An exhilarating performance.
With the look and style of a typical French chef, John Lombardi serves up a delicious Gaston. Mr. Lombardi is a natural in the role. Natalie Symons as the broken-hearted waitress, is a delightful Mimi. Symons and McGee have a marvelous chemistry together, as a bickering husband and wife. As the tuba playing, stuttering, and stammering busboy Antoine, Greyson Lewis is perfectly cast. Mr. Lewis brings an endearing, touching sensitivity to his role. A winning performance.
Last but not least is Roxanne Fay as the mysterious Miss. Berger. In a form fitting, red dress and matching hat, the confident Miss. Fay, takes her time, deliberately walking slowly, as she makes her entrance onstage. She sits in silence for an entire scene, with a Star presence, that is absolutely commanding. Her scene opposite Sullivan was simply... engaging.
Kudos to director Eric Davis, whose skilled direction was more like choreography. Scenic Designer Greg Bierce created a realistic, yet innovated setting. Lighting design by Chris Crawford gave charm to the fine dining atmosphere. Costumes and properties by Eric Davis were authentic and his sound design was right on cue. His use of underlying instrumental recordings during some of the scenes, was very effective, adding focus to the somewhat poetic dialogue. Production Stage Manager, Daniel Le Mien kept the show running seamlessly.
BRAVO!...BRAVO! ~ to the 5 Star Cast and Crew of " An Empty Plate..."
A MUST SEE!
Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission
Suggested audience: Teens and adults as there is profanity.
"An Empty Plate in the Cafe Du Grand Boeuf runs January 25th - February 17th, 2013
freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33710 Ticket Price: $37 CALL: 727.498.5205