Breakfast / Ambrosia
nytheatre.com review by Di Jayawickrema
August 10, 2011
The two short plays, Breakfast and Ambrosia, presented by the Made at Horse Trade series, are thoughtful, tragic stories that are presented with a quiet assurance that brings them vividly to life. Despite being only 30 minutes apiece, the harmonious blend of strong writing, direction, production and acting create well-fleshed portraits of depth.
The first play, Ambrosia, written insightfully by Kelley Nicole Girod and directed with care by Nicole A. Watson, opens on a small, empty bakery where an ill-tempered young employee, Jeffrey, sweeps and answers the phone with weary irritation. A blend of anger and vulnerability concealed beneath a hard shell of indifference, Nick Maccarone plays this character to perfection. When a sunny, irritatingly inquisitive woman, Ada, played by Sarah Stephens, walks in demanding a whole cake to eat at the bakery, Jeffrey’s day goes from bad to worse. Stephens’s not quite convincing Southern lady of leisure accent is compensated for by her fine unraveling of her complex character’s airy facade, slowly revealing secrets that could cost Jeffrey his much hated but needed job. The chemistry between the two actors is strong and is especially served well by Justin King’s nuanced lighting, which dims and brightens as difficult truths are obscured and revealed between the characters.
King’s lighting work and Courtnay Drakos’s small, intimate set design is of even further use to the second play, Breakfast, incisively written by Yusef Miller and directed with sophistication by Zoey Martinson. The play is set entirely in the kitchen of an utterly believable couple, Harriet and Glen, played wonderfully by Juliette Jeffers and Sean C. Turner, whose initial pleasant bickering eventually spirals into bitterness and anger. Opening in a light-hearted scene, Harriet recants her avowal never to cook for Glen in exchange for Glen agreeing to marry her. In an interesting device, both actors also take turns playing their son, David, whose homosexuality is a cause of concern for both parents. The passing of the years, which is depicted with impressive fluidity, sees their breakfast ritual change from a light-hearted bone of contention to a weapon of domestic war as an unexpected tragedy devastates their lives and their love. Like Ambrosia, the greatest strength of this play is its unflinching commitment to painting life as it is in all its wonder and sadness. Both these plays are small but solid successes.