Last week I watched “Food Confessions” and had quite the yummy evening. Written by all-star comedian Nancy Nufer, who also portrays the homemaker role in the play, it is a banquet of relatable characters discussing the nuances of nutrition.
There are 17 characters total, and most have witty cuisine-inspired names: Chip, Pepper, Eggbert, Coco, the list goes on. But there were just five actors playing all of the characters, which made for an interesting evening.
“Food Confessions” diverts away from the traditional play format by being a series of monologues rather than designated scenes. Additionally, instead of having a hectic set switcheroo in between monologues, the stage is already divided into three different sections: the kitchen, the bar and the diner. These two diversions from the traditional play format add an essence of consistency and flow to the play, which is much appreciated in a show that revolves around one of the most constant things in a human life: food.
Several emotions are felt throughout “Food Confessions.” The first is indignation. This ranges from the anger of meat-lover Oscar [Meyer] having to eat tofurkey at Thanksgiving, to the frustration of Barry, played by actor Robert Lesser, when asked about fancy food.
“I hate fancy food,” Barry says in the play. “I was at a restaurant once that served deconstructed gazpacho. I don’t want to pay for no deconstructed gazpacho. I call that the pantry.”
Another theme is food disdain. Louie is disdainful toward Grape-Nuts. “Why do they expand? I keep eating them and eating them and they’re still filling up the bowl! What happens when they get in my system?” Isn’t it so true?
Pepper, on the other hand, feels disgust toward the raisins in her cookies (why eat raisins when you could eat real grapes?). Coco, played by writer Nancy Nufer, calls the fact that Yoplait can’t mix in the squishy fruit at the bottom of the yogurt a “skanky food issue.” And then there’s Caesar, who can’t understand what the hell a flan is. (In all seriousness, a flan is a slimey eggy custard thing that slips in one’s mouth like an unwanted tongue.) Caesar calls a flan “a mystery with a riddle wearing an enigma hat.” Props to playwright Nancy Nufer for that clever line.
Infatuation is an emotion heavily felt during the play, particularly by Colby, who is played by actress Kara Revel. Colby [Jack] is a notorious Mac ‘n Cheese enthusiast. According to Colby, Mac ‘n Cheese is practically an art form.
“It’s about truth. And honesty,” she says.
You can’t have peas and bacon bits in your Mac ‘n Cheese, and the cheese must be cheddar and the pasta must be elbow. And, for christ’s sake, STAY AWAY FROM VELVEETA.
Good old family life is a theme scattered throughout the monologues. Monte, played by actor Dan Gunther, discusses the honor of having an old family recipe card for banket, a Danish pastry, handed down to him, only to lose it before his mother asks him to make it. After hours of frantically searching for the stained card, Monte searches the Internet and makes his own version of the banket. Upon first bite, his mother starts tearing up, “This is what my childhood tastes like, but I could never get it right. What did you do?” This story teases our own food memories out of us, or at least it did for me. There are so many times when I’ve pulled out the old family cookbook and it didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, but my parents loved it anyway. It was nice to be reminded of those occasions.
My favorite moment of the play was when Chip, played by actor Devin Scott, discussed eating at his Granny’s house. “I love her so much, but I just don’t get her deal with ancient food.” Chip continues, “I want something that is not nuclear waste in a CVS cup … I mean, if your marshmallows are from a company that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s okay to throw them out!” I don’t know about your grandparents, but my Grammy Bachelder still lives in a Depression-era mindset and refuses to throw anything away, so I loved this particular piece.
The play ended with a familiar, comforting picture: five adults sitting around a makeshift table, serving pretend peas and singing a nourishing tune. “Dine with the ones we adore, and never be hungry for more.”
In my earlier interview with playwright Nancy Nufer, I asked her what she would like audiences to take away from “Food Confessions.” Her response?
“If we’re very good and very lucky … audiences will leave telling one another their own stories.”
Nufer and the rest of the cast and crew did their job right. As I was leaving, conversational snippets of “my mom’s best recipe was…” and “I remember this one time during dinner when…” ran through my ear.