by Beki Pineda
THE CAKE – Written by Bekah Brunstetter; Directed by Chip Walton. Produced by Curious Theatre Company (1080 Acoma, Denver) through October 13. Tickets available at 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org.
Are the rest of you as awed by the sheer courage and totally gutsy performance by Miss Emma Messenger in this production of THE CAKE as I am?? If you haven’t seen it yet, you MUST! Besides the tremendous talent and heart she has shown us all in previous productions, in real life Emma is a shy, self-deprecating, humble woman. The emotional strength it took to do what she does in service of this show means that she stepped completely out of her comfort zone and literally bared all for her art. My heart applauds you, Miss Emma. You are the personification of “No Guts, No Story.”
She is followed closely by Michael Morgan playing her husband Tim who gamely joins her in the seduction game on stage. The slightly befuddled but loving man is given a touching portrayal in Micheal’s confident hands. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to eat mashed potatoes again.
A production that is especially meaningful to Denver audiences, this script offers a variation on the Masterpiece Bakery case involving a local baker’s refusal to bake the wedding cake for a same sex couple. This real life scenario has been acted out all over the country as same sex couples try to procure services for their ceremonies. This wedding drama is moved to a small North Carolina town and involves a female couple as opposed to a male duo from Denver.
The young couple, Macy (Jada Suzanne Dixon) and Jen (Alaina Beth Reed) approach Della to bake their cake. Della was the best friend of Jen’s mother (now deceased) and has watched her grow up. Jen and her mother planned and fantasized over her “perfect” wedding for years and Jen is determined to make things happen the way they were always planned . . . which included Della’s strawberry lemonade cake. Della is shocked by the revelation that Jen is marrying a woman; Jen is hurt when Della is suddenly too busy to bake for her.
Ambivalence abounds all around this situation. Jen can’t totally shake her Deep South roots and Baptist upbringing. Macy, a strong secure New York based African American woman, must deal with Jen’s baggage. Della has mixed emotions over the wedding; she can’t imagine not being a part of Jen’s wedding but has ingrained difficulty accepting the same sex part. Tim’s opposition to the wedding reveals hidden marital difficulties behind the comfortable facade they have built together. It’s complicated in the telling but clear in the watching. The script illustrates beautifully how being honest and direct can open new doors and how tiny baby steps can be made to change the world – one wedding at a time.
Needless to say, this cast and production team lives up to the high standards of Curious. The versatile set doubles as the bakery and the bedrooms of both couples. Since no bakery sponsor is listed, someone backstage has been tasked with procuring or baking an incredible variety of cake for each performance. Director Walton has pulled all the ingredients of this delightful confection together to create a lovely pastiche of a play.
A WOW factor of 9!