BWW Review: SLOW FOOD at Geva Theatre
There is nary a more unifying social experience than receiving horrid, mind-bogglingly bad service at a restaurant. It cuts across class, background, geography, ideology, upbringing, and every other imaginable social divide. With minimal effort we can all probably recall a recent experience in which we were out to dinner with friends or significant others and had a server who was slow, rude, invasive, negligent, easily distracted, too chatty, or-in the case of Stephen (Danny Vaccaro), the waiter in Wendy MacLeod's "Slow Food", currently on stage at Geva Theatre-all of the above. And while it might trigger flashbacks of dining horror and peak hangry-ness, it makes for a truly entertaining stage comedy.
The premise of "Slow Food" is simple: Peter (Stephen Caffrey) and Irene (Toni diBuono)'s anniversary celebration in Palm Springs is off to a rocky start, but they are looking forward to a nice meal in a local restaurant. It's just their luck to be served (or not) by perfectionist waiter Stephan (pronounced 'Steefff-en') who won't bring them their food and has them questioning everything - from their menu selections to the state of their marriage.
Geva regulars will likely recognize all three actors, each of whom have appeared in various Geva productions in recent seasons; Caffrey in "Red", Vaccaro in "La Cage aux Folles", and DiBuono in "The Humans", the latter being the highlight of Geva's 2018-2019 season in my humble opinion. "Slow Food" is decidedly lighter fare than all three of these works, a straightforward romantic comedy that doesn't push boundaries or traverse in heavily thematic terrain (though the couple's middle age and empty nest syndrome are definitely focal points).
That said, each actor brings their own energy to the stage and carves out a truly unique character with their own brand of quirkiness and humor. Stephen is a ball of manic, flamboyant energy, all-too-eager to dive into the couple's affairs, give unsolicited advice, and overshare his own neurosis and insecurities. Irene is motherly and accommodating, though takes a decidedly no-BS stance when it comes to her curmudgeonly husband. And Peter is a cranky old sourpuss, much too hungry to keep his emotions-or volume-in check. These three personalities create a cocktail that toggles between chaos and charm, with ample laughter throughout.
In typical Geva fashion, "Slow Food" features immaculate set and production design, transporting the audience to the interior of a chintzy Greek restaurant, one that we've all likely dined at before, ripe with Corinthian columns and Olympic busts, where the baklava is always stale and the lettuce usually wilted. Major kudos to the production team for their world-building and attention to detail.
"Slow Food" is quite fun, a hilariously light-hearted way to spend an evening, especially for the married couples among us in search of the ideal date night. It's playing at Geva Theatre until February 9th; for tickets and more information, click here.