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REVIEW: THE CAKE by Douglas Kennedy

Review: The Cake by Bekak Brunstetter.

The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Directed by Jim Dickson. Cast Marie Dickson. Stephen Nash, Samantha McClurg, Anne Vaughan, Chris Hamby. Booking Phone 07 55322096. Season ends February 26.

American playwright Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake is a cosy little play, which deals with a delicate and sensitive issue, that can divide communities.

At the heart of the story we have Della (Marie Dickson), who is a simple soul who runs a cake shop and is passionate about her work.

When we meet Della she is excited and happy because she has been picked for TV’s The Great American Bake Show.

She is even more delighted when Jen (Samantha McClurg), a long term friend, and something akin to a surrogate daughter, turns up after a long absence to announce that she’s getting married.

And naturally Jen wants her late mum’s best friend to bake the cake for the event.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Cake is set in North Carolina, a bastion of US religious sensibilities, and Dalla has strong conservative beliefs.

She when Jen introduces her bride to be, Macy (Anne Vaughan), a liberal leaning modern woman with a strong dislike for sugar, Della is seriously conflicted.

In fact Macy has a problem with the whole of the reality TV food business as she quips: “I can’t do food TV, it fetishises an industry that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people a year.”

She goes as far as to claim that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

It left this reviewer wondering why the gay couple, who must have known about Della’s prejudices and what goes into baking cakes, were bothering with this traditional wedding icon at all.

Although Brunstetter was inspired by real-life events the play never goes past the cosy and comfortable mark of in-house conversations.

Making up the cast of characters is Della’s down to earth and plummer husband and supporter Tim (Stephen Nash) and an anonymous Voice Over from The Bake Show (Chris Hamby).

While Tim and Della appear to have a close and loving marriage, we learn as the drama unfolds that the physical spark has gone out of their marriage. It appears that the couple are childless, but Dalla misses the warmth that comes with intimacy.

The four on-stage characters, even Macy, are genuinely nice and everyone has nothing but kindness in their voices.

This makes The Cake – along with its gentle humour – a very laidback and even forgiving piece of work.

I am guessing that by giving Della and Jen such a personal relationship, the author has defused any potential explosive situation.

This makes for a very civilized discourse on a testy issue, which in the real world has had extremely fiery outcomes.

The Cake is a happy friendly, even gentle, play with the best of intentions and some amusing lines.

Director Jim Dickson’s set design, which centres on Dalla’s shop interior, gives the production a visual dimension with something of a toy town quality.

This is one for those who prefer gently conflict in their drama and should be popular with a certain demographic.

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