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The Cake

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Bekah Brunstetter

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 5508

SHOWING : May 17, 2019 - June 23, 2019

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

When Della, a North Carolina Baker and devout Christian, is asked to bake a wedding cake for her best friend’s daughter, she is overjoyed. But that joy is short-lived when she learns that the intended is another bride. Struggling to reconcile her deeply-held belief in “traditional marriage” and the love she has for the woman she helped raise, Della finds herself in strange new territory.

Inspired by a story still in the headlines, this marvelously funny new play by Bekah Brunstetter (TV’s "This is Us") is proof that love is the key ingredient in creating common ground.


CAST & CREW LIST
Tim Allan Edwards
Della Marcie Millard
Macy Parris Sarter
Jen Rhyn Saver
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REVIEWS

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Buttercream Pasties
by playgoer
Monday, June 10, 2019
3.0
In a play about a Christian baker reluctant to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, you might not expect strong language and nudity. In Horizon’s production of Bekah Brunstetter’s "The Cake," you had better expect both. The nudity is played for laughs; the language is intended to reinforce a crude sense of seriousness in sexual politics.

The oppressively detailed set design is by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay. At the start, it’s a pink-and-blue bakery with over 30 cakes on display. The display cases and bookcases provide clutter enough, but the black-and-white tile floor is filled with several small café tables and chairs. It’s hard enough to make your way through them on the way to your seat, but when cake is offered to the audience at the end of the show, it’s gridlock trying to get out.

Since this is a Curley-Clay set, there are surprise hidden elements: the central portion revolves to show one bedroom, and a pair of bookshelves open to allow the arrival of another bed. Mary Parker’s lighting design does its best to isolate these bedroom scenes and a final wedding dress reveal, but the ever-present café tables tend to intrude. Many segments of the show involve baker Della (Marcie Millard) fantasizing about her upcoming stint on "The Great American Baking Show," and Ms. Parker’s lighting zooms in on Della in these sequences. These sequences underline Della’s sexual frustrations and her near-obsession with its host George (an uncredited voice, but with a god-awful faux-British accent).

The production team, playwright, and cast are all female, with the exception of Allan Edwards, who plays Della’s husband. This ties in to the sexual objectification of males in this play. The reactions of females in the audience make it clear that this role-reversal of paternalistic sexual politics hits a chord, but there’s an underlying bitterness in its treatment of males. Add in the lesbian element, and the play comes close to male-bashing.

Cole Spivia’s costume design gives various fashions to the various cast members, with numerous buttons on a dress Della needs to shed quickly. A matching silk nightgown and robe for Della also seems a bit of a misstep. Wedding fashions are more successful. Alexis McKay’s props are more successful still, although slices of supposed bakery cakes look more like slices of homemade layer cakes. Amy L. Levin’s sound design is fine.

Performances are also fine. Parris Sarter is sort of straitjacketed in her role of The Angry Black Woman, but plays the role with conviction. Rhyn McLemore Saver, in the role of her lesbian fiancée returning home to North Carolina for their wedding, gives as delightful a performance as ever, full of little touches that make the character come to life. Mr. Edwards plays the cardboard-cutout, paper-thin role of conservative, God-fearing Tim with more nuance than the writing deserves, and Ms. Millard makes great use of her inimitable stage presence in the central role of Della. Lauren Morris’ direction doesn’t always suit Ms. Millard’s natural style, though. Particularly in the opening lines of "follow ... the ... directions," the rhythm seems stagey and artificial. With a performer as gifted as Ms. Millard in embodying an engagingly charismatic persona, bits of heavy-handed direction can be stultifying.

"The Cake" is more of a female fantasy inspired by a recent court case than a commentary on it. It’s far more sexual than would be seemly in polite society, perhaps in an attempt to "humanize" a conservative Christian worldview, and it ties things up with a pretty wedding bow. Any incipient political discussion is subsumed by the interpersonal relationships portrayed. It’s titillating and fun and full of sugar and fat. Not for the socially conscious. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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