Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
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Kitchen Witches - a review

One of the best things about Santa Clara Players' theater, a converted art pavilion behind the Triton Museum, is its 80 or so seats are all within spitting distance of the actors. This is a distinct advantage for the current production, where the audience is part of the show. Kitchen Witches takes place on the set of a public access station's cooking show, and theatergoers become the studio audience.

Written by Caroline Smith, the play gets off to a slow start, with far too much time spent establishing the relatively shallow characters of Ukrakian chef "Babchka" (Dee Baily), her son Steve (Steven Lewis) who produces and announces the show, and the ever-silent Peg the camera gal (Peggy Lynch). The boredom lifts with the entrance of rival chef Isobel "Izzy" Lomax (Carolyn Compton). This was supposed to have been Babchka's final episode, Izzy's show had already been canceled as well, but when the station manager's wife sees the Jerry Springer-like spat between the two, she has her husband offer the dueling chefs a show together, with Steve as producer.

Kitchen Witches includes lots of clever zingers, and some world class bickering between the two chefs. Casting of the women's parts is excellent with very contrasting personalities between the chefs, and Camera Gal is just plain weird in all the right ways. Lewis, however, strikes me as too old for his role, and gives the impression of far more competence than I think the playwright had in mind for the momma's boy caught in the middle of a war between two domineering matrons.

Matt Matthews has done his usual excellent directing job, the players have their lines down pat, the action moves along as quickly as the sometimes uneven script allows, and the staging is so well blocked that the 2-minute-drill cooking competition chaos scene didn't looked planned at all, though it has to have been minutely choreographed. And Matt made good use of his secret weapon - his wife Audrey created dozens of food props which looked good enough to eat. There was also a lot of real food on the set, a stage manager's nightmare which Michael Antonucci handled beautifully.

Jim Narveson's set is cleverly designed to split in half, and includes a working stand-alone sink, which is pretty impressive for such a tiny theater. There were a few bits which counted on costumes to make the difference, and Marian Narveson came through every time with everything from capes to hats to a mammy outfit.

Kitchen Witches finishes its run tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm, Santa Clara Players, tickets can be reserved online here.
Tags: review, theater
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