Slow Food by Wendy MacLeod, is a delicious comedy at Dorset Theatre Festival. Only three characters, Irene (Peri Gilpin), Peter (Dan Butler), her husband of 23 years, and their waiter, Stephen with a “ph” (Greg Stuhr) appear on stage for the entire 90 minutes. The setting, a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs. Gilpin and Butler are both alums of the sitcom Frasier, and that may have had something to do with the packed house at the preview on 8/22. Fortunately, the packed house was well served.
This is one of those comedies where the humor comes hard, fast, and often, and you just buckle up and enjoy the show. The chemistry between Gilpin and Butler, as husband and wife, was realistic, as was their spousal banter seasoned with a slight edge from being too hungry and having a waiter who’s service is much too s-l-o-w. Stuhr, as the waiter, is hilarious and the chemistry he has with both Peter and Irene individually, alternating between positive and negative with each one, depending on if they are playing the waiter/patron game by his rules, is an absolute delight to watch.
It’s 9pm on a Sunday, Irene & Peter are on the first day of an anniversary getaway, and so far, everything has gone wrong. The Greek restaurant in which they find themselves eagerly anticipating a meal, is the 4th restaurant they’ve seen and the only one open and still serving. All they want is to get something to eat, and a Sam Adams for Peter, ASAP. Ordering Spanakopita, Greek salad, and lamb from the menu at a Greek restaurant should be a slam dunk, shouldn’t it?
Not if your waiter is Stephen, who makes dining out to be so much more than eating. Stephen interjects his own ideal of how the evening should be, an experience, and manages to contradict them on almost every request they make, dragging out the evening, sharing way too much personal information – do NOT ask him about his 17 year old cat – while Irene and Peter use every tool in their box to get Stephen to bring them something, anything, to eat: being friendly, being polite, being cooperative, being rude, pleading, flattering, flirting. Peter flirting with Stephen is hysterical, as are the consequences.
Time and hunger have Peter & Irene both cooperating with and pitted against each other, to see who can steal another table’s basket of left over bread (while trying to conceal the evidence from Stephen), getting a beer from the bar on their own (while trying to conceal the evidence from Stephen), and doing whatever they can think of to just get Stephen to bring them some food. All the while Stephen flits in and out with announcements, suggestions, stories of Dimitri, the 700 lb. chef … who’s sudden disappearance may or may not be contributing to the delay in their food.
Though on vacation, Irene, a counselor, reluctantly heads off stage to give a quick session to the suddenly found Dimitri. Peter meanwhile scores by describing his business consultation expertise. His expert opinion, surprisingly enough, is about how important the actual FOOD is to a restaurant “experience.”
The long, hilarious wait gives Irene and Peter plenty of time to talk, not just about how hungry they are and how to trick/convince Stephen into bringing them something, anything (even a braised kitten) to eat, but also about their concerns for their sons, their careers, their marriage, their disappointments and annoyances, and obvious throughout, in spite of their “hangry” bickering, their love for each other.
A hearty meal satisfies the hungry and a hearty laugh satisfies the soul. Just like the meal they are (spoiler alert) finally served. Slow Food is “nectar” and the perfect antidote for the troubling times in which we live. Though good things come to those who wait, Slow Food tickets are selling fast and it’s only here thru August 31st. Get your tix ASAP. Opa!
DATES & TIMES
Sunday, August 25, 2019 2:00 PM – Post-Show Talk Back
Thursday, August 29, 2019 7:30 PM – (6:30) Community Partner Night
Friday, August 30, 2019 2:00 PM
Friday, August 30, 2019 7:30 PM
Saturday, August 31, 2019 2:00 PM
Saturday, August 31, 2019 7:30 PM
104 Cheney Rd
Dorset, VT 05251