A relevant, heart-tugging comedy not to be missed.
Mix together a heaping tablespoon of religion and a scoop of civil rights, stir in sexual identity, clever comedy, and a dash of family responsibility and you start to get a taste of what “The Cake”, a play at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, (LDTC), is serving up. Directed by Melissa Livingston and written by Bekah Brunstetter, Emmy-nominated writer of NBC’s This is Us, “The Cake” is a relevant, heart-tugging comedy wonderfully unexpected and uncomfortable to the delight and dismay of its audience.
The play follows a cheery, bible-quoting Della, who is a small town baker about to be a contestant on the Great American Baking show when her well-ordered world turns upside down. Her best friend’s daughter Jen, asks Della to bake a cake for her lesbian wedding to her spirited and outspoken partner, Macy. Della is conflicted and confides in her mild yet intolerant husband Tim and unresolved issues spark between all four characters.
The topics tackled in the course of this short production are impressive. Writer Bekah Brunstetter has given each character complexity and relatability the audience can identify with in some way. The actors are incredibly vulnerable and skilled in navigating that complexity for the audience to relate without having to agree with everything they say or do. Not an easy thing to accomplish with subject matter that can easily divide the family dinner table.
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While the first layer of this story is Della’s conflict to bake or not bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, this play does well to show when we peel back one layer it only exposes a deeper one. Two short monologues by Jen and Della delve into their inner conflicts of identity, desire, family guilt,, belief system and discovery of their own empowerment. The intimacy of the performance in the small Flex Theater at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center only amplifies the vulnerability of the dialogue. The rawness at times leaves you shifting in your seat while the comedic writing breaks and balances the tension to allow space to access the tougher moments.
The LDTC offers a prologue and an epilogue to engage the audience and for the audience to access the performers and discuss the deeper themes with every one of their productions. “The Cake” acutely displays the gray areas in our beliefs, the complexities of our relationships, and the great need to let go of our assumptions. With a play with so much to unpack, it seemed an especially rare opportunity have dialogue on issues that divide us. Come for “The Cake”; stay for the conversation.
“The Cake” runs until March 31st the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, and is being performed in small theaters across the country.