“The Cake” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – November 11, 2018


Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Stray Cat Theatre presents a smashing Southwest premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s stellar play, “The Cake,” that cleverly dissects and explores today’s disputes regarding acceptance and tolerance. Using a same-sex marriage to explore this pithy issue, the play is an excellent testament to today’s perplexing challenges while the playwright integrates this often touchy discussion with much comic levity.

Set in a small North Carolina town not known for cutting edge thinking, we meet Della, owner of a bakery.  She prides herself on her themed cakes.  Longtime friend Jen arrives back in her hometown town to arrange her marriage ceremony to Macy.  Jen met Macy in a major metropolitan city.  Jen wants Della to bake her wedding cake.  When Della meets Jen’s intended, neither she nor her stodgy and small minded husband Tim can handle the unconventional marriage.

The unusual situation Jen brings forces Della to deal with her own marriage that has lost most of its physical and emotional luster as she tries to rekindle excitement in Tim.  The complex issue confronts many new couples today and its discussion is fascinating but the playwright fills “The Cake” with many comic moments even though the play’s raison d’etre is serious.

Katie McFadzen’s brisk staging keeps things light as the issues are dissected and Aaron Sheckler’s marvelous set allows the play to shift swiftly between Della’s bakery and two bedrooms where the issues get discussed with both small town simplicity and big city understanding.

Jodie Weiss is impressive as Della possessing both a heart that yearns to understand but can’t get beyond her long held beliefs.  Della’s attempts to spark her husband into action are quite humorous and Weiss uses these moments to keep focus on both the difficult issue while enjoying the comic mayhem these moments provide.  Megan Holcomb is a stalwart Jen and Racquel McKenzie is a worldly Macy.  Christopher Haines is a staunchly opinionated Tim, Della’s stuffy hubbie.

“The Cake” is an amazingly funny but telling play that continues through November 24.  For tickets, call the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org or www.tca.ticketforce.com.

Grade: A