Geoff Sobelle's FOOD Defies Description, But Still We Make an Attempt

90 Minutes of Indescribable Joy, Discovery and Magic Makes FOOD One Dinner You Won't Want to Miss

By: Dec. 03, 2023
Geoff Sobelle's FOOD Defies Description, But Still We Make an Attempt

I love food. I love preparing it. I love eating it. I love talking about it. I love writing about it (for those of you who aren’t aware, I wrote a cookbook some 30 years ago that I’ve been updating and revising for several months now). I love reading about it – its traditions and evolution. I love researching the foodways of various groups of people and I have been known to voraciously consume historical tomes that attempt to explain the customs that surround the food that we grow/make/eat/share and the secret foodstuff that connects us to our heritage, our family, our home, even our very soul.

Thus, it should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone within the sound of my voice, my clicking keyboard or anyone who has ever read one word among the millions I’ve written over the past 30-some years that I was, by turns, mesmerized, fascinated, enraptured, captivated, perplexed, challenged and inspired by Geoff Sobelle’s FOOD, a theatrical treatise on our connection to food, the way it nourishes us and, yes, consumes us in our daily lives and how our dependence on food has fueled our imagination since the time a human first realized he/she/they/we had an imagination with which to work.

Geoff Sobelle's FOOD Defies Description, But Still We Make an Attempt Now onstage at Oz Arts Nashville in a ten-performance run through Sunday, December 10, FOOD both defies description and demands it: if, for example, you are like me and found yourself so caught up in the sheer spectacle and drama of Sobelle’s stunning performance on opening night only to be unable to really talk about it for at least half an hour after (despite the prodding of a longtime friend with whom I’ve shared so many impressions and thoughts about theatrical endeavors over the years and yet who wouldn’t shut up about it, exclaiming “I’ve never seen you so pensive after a show!”) or when you finally regain the ability to express cogent thought only to find yourself grasping for words to adequately describe the experience…

Let me put it this way: The response to FOOD is as highly personal as what your favorite order would be at a classic American diner. While I might order an omelet with cream cheese, onions and mushrooms, with a plate of crispy Brussels sprouts on the side and you might opt for a BLT and we’d both be euphoric while eating our meals, what tempts us both is something different entirely, yet totally apt and understandably on-point. That Sobelle is able to so eloquently express a compendium of thought about food and humankind’s pursuit of something that nourishes and intrigues – while considering where upon the food chain we find ourselves – is both startling and reassuring, provocative and engrossing.

When one first enters the arena in which Sobelle’s presentation takes place (in some ways, the 500-square foot table, covered with a crisp, fresh, white cloth seems more akin to a sporting venue than it does a theatrical one), to find several dozen people arrayed around it, surrounded by general admission seating (which provides the best focal point for witnessing what transpires), with the unprepossessing Sobelle dressed in waiter’s garb and brandishing a silver tray from which he presents all manner of interesting foodstuff and paraphernalia with which to amuse, titillate and confound everyone present, your initial reaction may be a profound, if completely unironic, “Huh!”

But fasten your seatbelts, gentle reader, you’re in for a bumpy, if totally elucidating, enlightening and inspiring, ride.

What follows is a dinner party on steroids, with Sobelle effortlessly conducting the symphony of courses that make up an unforgettable evening of creativity that continues to stagger the mind almost 72 hours past the show’s end. To offer more detail would be to commit theatrical sacrilege, spoiling the food and the show – and make no mistake about it, Sobelle puts on a SHOW over the course of 90 minutes, sans intermission – and I could be writing for hours and still not fully explain what comprises the magic and mystery of FOOD.

You will leave Oz Arts with plenty of fodder for conversations for the next several days, feeling the urge to walk up to total strangers in the lobby of the next theater you visit to urge them to go see FOOD, while extolling the virtues of buffalo, fields of wheat growing in the prairie and the unfettered growth and excess of 21st century America.

As one does – when mere words just don’t suffice.

FOOD. Created, performed and co-directed by Geoff Sobelle. Co-creator/magician Steve Ciuffo. Co-directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Original lighting design by Isabelle Byrd. Lighting design by Devin Cameron. Sound design by Tei Blow. Creative stage manager Lisa McGinn. Assistant stage manager Red Guhde. Presented at Oz Arts – Nashville. For more information and for tickets, go to www.ozartsnashville.org. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. Through December 10.



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