BWW Review: THE OLDEST LIVING CATER WAITER at Gateway Theatre
Most theatremakers have to take on less creative professions to pay their bills, and in Michael Patrick Gaffney's one-man play The Oldest Living Cater Waiter, his side hustle is put front in center in relaying the story of his life as he balances his passion with practicality.
Gaffney caught the theatre bug as a young boy in rural America, inspired by his drama teacher who from his hilarious impersonations seems like a real pistol, egging him into a supposed rivalry with fellow Oklahoman Kristin Chenoweth. When he moved to San Francisco, he happens upon a career serving at high-class events from christenings to funerals and everything in between.
Displaying a great deal of versatility as he flits between courses and revealing his struggles with alcoholism and his perceived failure to make it big, Gaffney is an affable and refreshingly honest performer who charms his way through the evening. There are plenty of encounters with difficult customers, including a very funny anecdote about a romantic novelist desperate for another drink, and some sojourns into Shakespeare including a monologue from his fellow domestic, MacBeth's porter. He translates his personal journey in a way that makes him relatable to anyone who has had to bridge the gap between who we want to be and who we are.
Director Ken Sonkin guides Gaffney at a great pace as he rotates exclusively counter-clockwise around the dinner table across three courses that serve as distinct acts. The final dessert is sentimental without being too sweet; Gaffney is quite moving as he resigns himself to his reality, but we are left wanting to see a bit more of the fire that keeps him reaching for his dreams.
This is a delightful and delicious evening that is filling but still leaves you wanting more.
The Oldest Living Cater Waiter runs through July 9, 2019 at San Francisco's Gateway Theatre (215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111). Tickets range can be purchased through the Box Office at (415) 255-8207 or online at www.42ndstmoon.org.