Bonbons for Breakfast
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 2, 2006
What could be a more apropos opening to the $ellout Festival than a comedy about selling out? Lisa Ferber brings forth the goods in her delicious comedy (pun absolutely intended; nothing is beneath me after seeing this piece) Bonbons for Breakfast, in which two phoney-baloney artiste types shamelessly pander and self-promote in pursuit of riches and glory.
Their names are Toots Vanderfluff and Wembly Feshtunkenah and they are, respectively, a Playwright/Fashion Designer and a Visual Artist. (They would certainly appreciate that I used Capital Letters.) A typical day for Toots and Wembly, apparently, consists of ordering breakfast over the phone, not going to work, not creating any art, and then trying to get a grant from their wealthy patrons, the Dalrymples. Wembly's big idea of the moment is to wrap Riverside Park in red licorice. The Dalrymples eat it up (the idea, not the licorice).
The Dalrymples—the shallowest rich people imaginable—are feeling slightly beholden to the artistes because they've stolen Toots and Wembly's sommelier, Miss Schmutzman, away from them. A more severe complication is introduced in the next scene, when Margaret Crumple, wife of former Dalyrmple protege Boz, plans her Day Without Sugar for the exact same day as the unveiling of Wembly's licorice installment. (Margaret, you see, is an activist: she's trying to get the government to eliminate sugar from breakfast cereals and to pull out of Iraq, among other causes.)
Things start to get really thorny all around when Boz introduces Miss Schmutzman to the joys of cream soda and Margaret gets a TV set. You'll have to see Bonbons for Breakfast for yourself to find out how these and other unexpected incidents all fit in. It's neatly plotted, daffily funny, and often deftly satiric.
Ivanna Cullinan's brisk and merry staging is invaluable, as are the contributions of the accomplished cast. Hope Cartelli and Salvatore Breinik are the hopelessly self-involved Toots and Wembly; John Kinsherf and Maggie Cino are the hilariously overprivileged Dalrymples; Miriam Lipner is the snob-turned-bohemian Miss Schmutzman; Alyssa Simon is the bohemian-turned-basketcase Margaret; and David Marcus is the goofily clueless Boz.