Monday, November 3, 2014

"Recipe" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

The World Premiere of Michael Gene Sullivan's "Recipe" has all the energy and farce of a San Francisco Mime Troupe show, which is no surprise since Sullivan is Writer-in Residence for the Mime Troupe. It's a million dollar idea and you don't have to sit on a rock in Dolores Park to see it.

Four women bakers are the best muffin, cake, cobbler and pie makers in town, but this is just their cover. Their true name is the Morning Glory Baking Circle for Revolutionary Self-Defense and they are dedicated to the revolutionary politics of their youth. Overthrowing the fascist Amerikan (with a k) government would be fine, as long as the pig tastes their muffins first.

The show is belly-laugh hysterical, especially in Act One, and the cast is terrific. Tamar Cohn as Ruth (muffins) brings down the house with every Pantherish posture.

Phoebe Moyer and Lynne Soffer play the bickering lesbian couple Lillian and Helen (cake and cobbler) with luscious pleasure while Jan Zvaifler's Janice (organic pastry and joints in the kitchen) is a delight as the ex-child of the summer of love, whose stories always revolve around who she was banging at the time. Mime Troupe vet Velina Brown is the hapless reporter sent to do an interview on the four women with unexpected results.

Like a Mime Troupe Show, where the authors never quite believe you already know and probably agree with their politics, "Recipe" gets mired in political diatribe in Act Two. The surprise ending is satisfying but could get there a lot faster. World Premieres are like that. The author will have plenty of feedback to use for trimming his show.

But we hope they don't cut out any of the acerbic dialogue between the four women. Please don't lose Janice's Luther Anderson story. (Luther Anderson?) And the music cues: priceless. Sullivan is a terrific comedy writer and "Recipe" is already delicious. It just needs to come out of the oven sooner.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Recipe" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. Gary Graves (director) manages to use the entire room to keep the action flowing and the cast and story are endearing as well as entertaining. The BANGLE OF PRAISE is for Tamar Cohn, especially at the end when Sweety Dimples is tied up and...well, you'll see.

Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley
Fri-Sun through November 23
$15-$28 (sliding scale)

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