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BWW Review: BABETTE'S FEAST at Taproot Theatre


Now through December 30th

BWW Review: BABETTE'S FEAST at Taproot Theatre

BABETTE'S FEAST nourishes the soul and feeds the spirit. It is a sweet story about the beauty of life and finding contentment. Told slowly without the need to rush, we meet the characters and traipse along with them through their lives in the small Norweigan town of Berlevaag. It is a story of insiders and outsiders who cross paths, the story of what is expected and what is desired, and a story of finding answers within yourself, and mostly a story of home. And much like the turtle soup, BABETTE's FEAST is the show we didn't even know we were hungry for until we got the first bite.

The story revolves around Dean, the religious leader of Berlevaag and his two daughters, Martine, and Philippa. Dean's leadership brings harmony and unity to the entire community. His daughters are taught that there is no higher purpose than serving God. It is rare to have visitors to the community, but when they do come, they make a big impact. Both Martine and Philippa are presented with glimpses of lives with other possibilities beyond Berlevaag. Babette arrives as a refugee from the Paris Commune. Slowly, she begins to win over the town through her resourcefulness, tough market negotiations, and good cooking. After years of service, Babette asks the sisters for three favors.These favoris demonstrate just how deep her influence and cooking can be.

Jenny Vaughn Hall (Martine) and April Poland (Philippa) are delightful as the two sisters. They balanced the bar of piety and affection with great grace. Pam Nolte as Babette had the weighty task of a many-layered character that plays it close to her chest. Yet through little dialogue and some studied movement, she was able to draw us into Babette's story. Matthew Posner's portrayal of Papin is a sweet surprise. His buoyant personality is exactly what the show needs to contrast with the slow, simple lifestyle of Berlevaag. His Papin also brings out the best in Poland's Philippa. While you can see this storyline coming from a mile away, you are no less delighted with its arrival. The biggest kick in the show comes from Teri Lee Thomas's portrayal of Astrid and the Bread Seller. Her comedic prowess is the salty that makes the whole dish so tasty. However, her performance also makes me sad for the unfortunate audience members on the sides of the thrust stage that may have missed some of the faces she pulled that were a story in themselves. The entire ensemble worked so well together, and the shared role of narrator gives a movement and liveliness to necessary exposition.

The scenic design by Mark Lund combines the best of a traditional set with touches of technology. Director Scott Nolte used movement and blocking to help what could have been a very slow feeling show have life. Dialect Coach Elizabeth Kaye had her hands full teaching a very difficult dialect to the cast which they managed with a serviceable to fair job throughout. The weaknesses of the show come not from the cast nor the artistic team, but rather from the script itself. BABETTE'S FEAST is a story of decades that is crammed into a short play. There was so much more to explore and understand, especially about Babette's past and how she comes to terms with her new life that is simply left unsaid. Then in the final five minutes, we get an information dump that we neither have time to process nor incorporate into the ending that is gathering around the feast's table. Although the end was a bit jarring with the tangential information, the heart of the show remains. If you want razzle dazzle, this isn't it. If you want spectacle and special effects, look elsewhere. But if you want to remember what it is like to listen to people tell their stories with authentic tenderness, this is the show for you.

BABETTE's FEAST is playing now through December 30th at Taproot Theatre. For more information or tickets, visit and don't forget your proof of vaccination and mask. See you at the theater!

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