For each equal-intercourse wedding cake case that makes its way to the U.S. (or some other) Supreme Court, there have to be dozens of others which might be contested in the hearts of person betrothed and bakers.
Those are quieter, more nuanced courtrooms where proof is weighed in terms which are extra emotive and cultural, as opposed to legalistic. It can get messy in approaches which might be, by turns, comedian or coronary heart-rending. And such cases can pose knotty, open-ended questions of faith, love, intuition, empathy, and tolerance with ramifications far beyond the ambit of gender-identification or celebration-making plans.
We’re plunged into the thick of this sort of case in The Cake, a trim and attractive production that concludes Pacific Theatre’s 2018-19 season. Playwright Bekah Brunstetter sets her clever, brisk script in her native Winston-Salem, North Carolina, far from her adopted California home in which she plies her alternate as a TV author.
So she’s fluent sufficient in all the shibboleths of our Left Coast, multi-cultural, Libtard, hypo-allergenic culture. But she also has manner greater first-hand information and sympathy than lots of us for the true-believing evangelical denizens of Dixie’s Deploristan.
That permits her to serve up four rounded and sympathetic characters all of whom we will root for, special even though they will be from each other in history and orientation. The tale revolves round Della (Erla Faye Forsyth), a by means of-the-book baker whose perfectionism maintains her cake store invariably in the purple but has earned her a contestant slot in an approaching spherical of a Bake-Off fact TV show.
Tim, her stoutly dependable husband (Tim Dixon) covers the bakery’s losses together with his income as a plumber, whilst presiding as her moral and theological arbiter in step with his Biblically-ordained duty. Childless, the couple has implicitly adopted a virtual daughter, Jen (Stephanie Elgersma), the child of Della’s overdue exceptional pal.
But, some distance from home and unbeknownst to her Deep South kinfolk, Jen has found out a few things about herself at some point of her fresh-out-of-college sojourn within the New York publishing world. Foremost amongst these releasing however inconvenient truths: she wants not to publish to the chilling clinch of a few “eligible” boy simply because it’s the churchly norm. She finds that she’d never before felt as unfastened or uplifted as she now does inside the arms of her meant bride, Macy (Cecily Day), a black, brainy, mouthy Brooklynite.
Still, in terms of wedding ceremony planning, you may take the woman out of Carolina, but you could’t take the gauzy Carolina nuptial aesthetic out of the woman. Jen’s past due mom left a hefty bequest expressly for her daughter’s eventual wedding ceremony, and Jen’s already stuffed up a loose-leaf binder with meticulous information of her dreamy Winston-Salem gala.
Back home on a scouting foray, her first forestall, of the route, is the bakery. “Aunt” Della is pleased for her and eager to cater the occasion with a butter-cream tour depressure. But then it slowly dawns on her that Jen’s affianced is sure that “woke” freelance journalist in the corner quietly scribbling notes even as declining, on the grounds of veganism, to even pattern any of the cake store’s delectable wares. It’s not a question of Macy’s strangeness or stridency or blackness – but a woman, after all.
After that Della, with Southern politesse, rechecks her calendar and finds that alas her order e-book is already oversubscribed proper across the intended wedding date. Still, the choice rankles. Tim, in a pillow-talk preachment, does his first-rate to enhance her clear up. Same-sex marriage “just isn’t natural.” “Well, nor is confectioners’ sugar,” Della glumly rejoins.
And the two brides-to-be are so obviously in love – a spectacle that sparks Della’s personal myth life, by and large revolving around the imminent Bake-off and its dreamboat host, George, tantalizingly voiced (by means of Tariq Leslie) as a disembodied, faintly Brit-inflected ear computer virus, with the aid of turns wheedling and judgemental. The sheer sight of the younger couple also rekindles the lengthy-dormant embers of Della and Tim’s passion, falteringly expressed in dabs of butter cream and mashed potatoes, respectively.
Please pardon my spoiler; those anointments honestly need to be visible to be savored. But spoiling appears intrinsic to on line journalism. For instance, Macy’s freelance blog post approximately Winston-Salem’s cake keep refusenik turns out to nearly derail her very own wedding and get Della pre-emptively disqualified from the long-sought Bake-off.
But it works out in the long run, with enough evangelical supporters rallying to Della’s facet to sooner or later positioned the beleaguered bakery in the black. And come what may a Della masterpiece nevertheless manages to make back door access to the marriage gala in spite of everything. So each person receives to have their Cake and eat it, too – even Macy, who greets her first bite of post-woke confectionary goodness with heartfelt “Oh. My. God.”
Yup, Della nods. That’s Who authored this happy finishing, very well.
But with quite a few help from director Angela Konrad, who has paced the production impeccably and recruited a perfect solid. Forsyth’s Della is an irresistible little petit four portrayal, all candied frills at the outside and melting pastry cream on the internal. Sugar with a piquant overtone of spice, flawlessly offset via the blue plate special stolidity of Dixon’s meat-and-potatoes Tim.
Elgersma’s bubbly Jen can nonetheless turn round and deliver poignant depth in her coming-out soliloquy. Her wistful mom-daughter bond with Della is completely credible. Less so is her wifely chemistry with Cecily Day’s Macy.
This, in its manner, is the play’s hardest role to bring off, exactly due to the fact she maximum almost embodies the presumed affinities of most of us city theatre-goers and Brunstetter has bent over backward to get us to peer matters sympathetically from the other angle of small-metropolis, Southern piety. But Day’s Macy goes the distance with us so that using her final contented sigh we’re ready to enroll in her sugar excessively.
Laughlin Johnston’s degree set is a resourceful confection in its very own right – tall cabinets, level left and right, piled high with cream desserts for the bakery scenes. And then the cabinets fold down into Murphy beds for the respective middle of the night confessions of the two couples.
Lighting designer Michael K. Hewitt bathes the bakery in golden illumination, then shifts to cooler, starker spotlights for interior monologues. And for Bake-off George’s voice-from-the-sky, he runs colored riffs on the overhead, cake-fashioned chandeliers. Sound clothier Rick Colhoun ratings the entire with really appropriate bursts of piano track that could sound trite however for the ruminative catches he injects into their cleaning soap opera fluency.
This is a Cake of many layers, attractive meals for thought. Help your self to a slice, now via June eight.