BWW Reviews: THE DISH at Capital Fringe is Risky Foodie Fun
Written by Jenny Splitter and directed by Strother Gaines, THE DISH displays the filming of a local access food talk show. It combines favorites such as "The View", "Chopped", and celebrity food star's personal shows, and includes some of the typical personalities you will find as you channel surf. The four chefs are quickly embroiled in the middle of a post-divorce spat, as well as a battle to be on the national macaron-eating and discussing stage.
This is the second show I've seen from Jenny Splitter, playwright and Speakeasy performer. Splitter has a crisp wit, and is able to capture the evils of what she writes about while still showing that she loves it. Compared to THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF H STREET, THE DISH is riskier. A large part of the show is improvisational, based on events and guests, and there are more technical and visual components.
At its heart, this script is funny. The characters are people you secretly laugh at as you steal their recipes. However, as with her previous show, they dwell far too much in stereotypes, and don't appear as human as they could. Fringe shows have very limited time to establish character depth, so perhaps conversion into a longer show could help.
The risks taken in this show come to varied results. Actors interact on a basic set of tables, chairs, and cooking supplies while a slideshow plays behind them. The slideshow didn't necessarily work, and became distracting. If the timing were to get off, it could ruin a perfectly good joke. That being said, a lot of the jokes, especially off the cuff, were golden.
Kevin Boggs as Rodger, a verbose, fame-seeking foodie with blinders to his surroundings other than a camera, is exquisite. His character, while attempting to hold the show's flair together, has some monologues that will leave you in stitches. It truly, truly works for him. Catherine Deadman gives new life to the Paula Deen-esque celebrity chef. She is domineering, idiotic, and yet alluring. Deadman's improv was smart, and even lines that maybe didn't seem like they would work in her head came out pretty well. Her counterpart, scorned ex-husband Phillip (Jonathan Wong) was funny, but could stand to vary his emotions somewhat.
Anika Harden plays Nadia, an obsessive-compulsive food blogger who has no idea how to be in front of a camera. Harden played a similar role in THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF H STREET, and fit both. However, it felt somewhat stagnant. Executive Producer Gwen, played by Kristy Simmons, controls the show, and yet, this character was all over the place for me. She varied between Gollum in a headset and a dominatrix, and it was hard to understand her intent, or how she really even fit. If one thing could change, that would be it. It just felt messy.
As previously mentioned, this show takes risks. Each performance features a local celebrity chef, as well as audience interaction. This can make or break the show, but the beauty of it is, it will never be the same twice. This performance had a funny guest (Mykl Wu) and audience members who really enjoyed being on stage. In this instance, it couldn't have gone better.
The Dish is a smart, eye-opening serving on the Capital Fringe menu that just needs some time and restructuring. Go to see the hilarity, and to wonder, like I did, if you really sound like that when you're describing what you just ate, tweeted, photographed, or lusted after at 3am on the Food Network.
For more information on THE DISH, visit its Fringe page.