BWW Review: THE ART OF DINING - An Acquired Taste For Some
Art, as a rule, is subjective. It can be appreciated or not, liked or not. At opening weekend's Sunday performance, playwright Tina Howe's THE ART OF DINING had its own built-in laugh gallery, who loved this ART, as this one large portion of the house frequently led all others in laughter. Set in a home-converted restaurant - The Golden Carrousel - at the Jersey Shore in the late 70s, ART covers one evening of this newly opened, two-man operation fraughtly run by husband Cal and chef Ellen. Gloria Gifford directs her enthusiastic and willing cast through slapstick, overprojecting and over-the-top acting in lightning-fast dialogue, often overlapping, often two separate monologues simultaneously.
Three sets of customers attending include: a well-dressed couple Hannah and Paul Galt; a socially-maladjusted writer Elizabeth Barrow Colt, early for her first meeting with her hope-to-be publisher David Osslow; and a trio of girlfriends celebrating one of their birthdays.
Billy Budinich and Kelly Musslewhite as restaurateurs Cal and Ellen eat, talk, and cook at hyper-speed. Keturah Hamilton and Danny Siegel as the food-as-sex orgasmic Hannah and Paul alternately moan, coo and bicker while waiting for their food to arrive. Sabrina Won bumbles and fumbles as the publicly awkward, food-phobic Elizabeth. A solid Haile D'Alan finally enters as Elizabeth's potential publisher David with curious intentions meeting a prospective writer to publish in a 'romantic' restaurant. Samiyah Swann, Leana Chavez and Gloria Alvizar embody the boisterous partying pack of gals (Tony, Herrick and Nessa, respectively) celebrating dieting Tony's birthday, as they take over the last available table of The Golden Carrousel.
Kudos to set designers' (Gifford, Hamilton and Lucy Walsh) vivid, three-roomed set - living/waiting room with footless purple couches donated by José Eber, a carrousel horse and Asian art panels; the main dining room with a 70s pop artist Patrick Nagel piece hanging high overhead, and a working kitchen full of various foods and cooking paraphernalia.
As part of Jamaica Moon Productions' double-cast THE ART OF DINING, VIP patrons will be served food during intermission and after the show. Different food establishments will be featured for the rest of the run. Opening weekend's Sunday performance was deliciously catered by El Floridita.