Richmond Triangle Players hit this one out the ballpark, or “the kitchen,” shall we say. The Cake is one of the best productions I have seen on the RTP stage, or any Richmond stage, for that matter.
Directed by the notable, Dawn Westbrook, it is a roller coaster of emotions. It’s deliriously funny, has moments of deep reflection and gives us the chance to see ourselves on stage as RTP does so well so often.
Based on the argument that a baker should not be legally required to bake our wedding cakes due to their religious beliefs, the play causes our baker, Della, to struggle on personal levels when her late best friend’s daughter brings her African-American girlfriend home to North Carolina to marry. Della’s husband, Tim, is no help as he cringes at the thought of gays doing just about anything.
Peppered with the conflicts that LGBT people can have when being confronted by the prejudices of people we love, combined with how those conflicts can cause issues with our spouses, the play has us feeling and reflecting one moment and holding our sides in laughter the next.
If you grew up in the south, you knew a Della, played by Terri Moore who just ended her acclaimed role in Always, Patsy Cline. Full-figured and loving, she is unapologetic in her appreciation for sugar, icing and anything that involves cupcakes or Jesus. Joined by husband, Tim, played by veteran actor, Gordon Bass, the couple sometimes steals the show. When Della complains that Tim “has not kissed her with his tongue” for ages, the two bring one of the most hilarious sex scenes to this LGBT stage I have ever seen. And how ironic that it is heterosexual sex that brought the audience to laughing tears.
While the show may be labeled as a comedy, it also carries the heavy weights that many of us have experienced. Struggles with religion, family and friends who say they love us…but, there is always that but. Conflicts with those who are the most important people in our lives bring severe pain and no amount of sugar or icing can cause that pain to go away…or can it?
From the clever and humorous way Macy, the surprise girlfriend, played by Zakiyyah Jackson, is introduced, to the deep tearful, personal sharing of Della talking about a college female she wanted to touch, the production is filled with much of everything.
Jen, the young woman who proudly brings her girlfriend home for her dream wedding, played by Nicole Morris-Anastasi, does a superb job in sharing her elation as well as her deep pain.
No better example of a RTP production that makes us leave the theater smiling following a discussion on the pain that many of us have known, than The Cake. And that is a gift that Richmond Triangle Players often shares.
And this is why I encourage everyone to see this production. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel joy. It makes us feel emotion. It simply makes us feel. And I do not think a play nor an actor can be more complimented than that.
We are very proud that Diversity Thrift Manager, Darren Schledt, is the Assistant Stage Manager for “The Cake.” The show runs through March 7th. Tickets at www.rtriangle.org