This past weekend I had the pleasure of joining Ms. M for a new play reading at The Old Globe Theatre. Each year they showcase new works in development at their New Voices Festival in this reading format – no sets or costumes, only the cast with chairs, music stands, and in this case, a piano and highly talented pianist.
The production I had the pleasure of seeing was Cake Off, which is the transformation of Sheri Wilner’s original play, Bake Off, into a musical by playwright Julia Jordan and composer Adam Gwon.
All I knew from the teaser copy was that it was loosely based on the Pillsbury Bake Off, particularly the year the competition prize money bumped from $10,000 to one million dollars. In my head, it was going to be an over the top spoof of the competition, which would have been fun. The play turned out to be so much more.
I want to give huge accolades to the cast for their performance. This is a work still very much in progress, and they had only received the latest revisions eight hours before they went on.
Cake Off starts before the first round of the bake off, and it is light, delightful fun. The play focuses on two competitors – a divorced mother of five who is at her third final trip to the Cake Off, and a separated Dad who bakes with his son during their weekend visits. As the play progresses, it adds depth to the characters and shows the effects of falling outside of societal norms in terms of a smart woman who doesn’t dumb herself down and a man who is more motivated by helping others than winning at all costs.
My favorite part of the play was an unexpected and fabulous feminist anthem. It asked men if they were doctors and lawyers and CEOs, why did they have to take the Cake Off as well. There was also the requisite amount of cussing involved. It made my evening.
When I wrote my review of the Great British Baking Show, I mentioned how much I loved that it stuck to only the people and the food. The reason why American cooking competition shows don’t take that approach was perfectly honed into one sentence in the play – They (the audience) can’t taste the food. Everyone in the audience seemed to take in the significance of that.
I hope that one day soon this musical version of the play will be finished and performed. I will definitely be in the audience when it does.
Has anyone else gone to a play reading? Or Am I the only one that thinks that profanity and feminist anthems need to go together more often?