A DUAL CRITICS PHASE EIGHT THEATRE COMPANY REVIEW
For those hungry for interesting theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Downtown Jacksonville is the place to have been on April 5th, where Food of Love, Kelby Siddons’s latest play, was staged in Nola MOCA, the on-site cafe. A second (sold-out) performance is scheduled for April 11th.
Founder and director of the Phase Eight Theatre, JaMario Stills, has produced many provocative and interesting plays, but Food of Love is unique; it’s the first time food has been a major component.
Playwright Kelby is a full-time educator who finds time in private life to become involved in many theatre projects. She is an accomplished actor and director, and Jacksonville’s foremost playwright. She wrote the highly acclaimed Madame Bonaparte which was staged at Players By The Sea, and with the permission of the playwright, adapted Pontypool, which was also staged at Players. At ABET, she both adapted and directed the production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. And she recently appeared on stage in Theatre Jacksonville’s Silent Sky. You can follow playwright Kelby Siddons on her website.
Siddons’s Food of Love is a twist on Edmond Rostand’s classic romantic play Cyrano de Bergerac. Notes provided by MOCA can best explain this version: “A mystery of identity, the poetry of a beautiful meal and a recipe for romance . . . a site-specific, queer, gourmand take on Cyrano de Bergerac’s tale of unrequited love in which two suitors woo a beloved in tandem.” Whereas Rostand’s suitors wooed Roxanne with eloquent words, the suitors in this modern version use the courses of a five-star meal.
The three actors selected for this original play were excellent in their portrayal of these characters with complex emotions. They have been seen previously on various stages in the North Florida area. Stephanie Santiago appears as Alex; you may have seen her on stage in the 5 & Dime’s Laramie Project or ABET’s The Ultimate Christmas Show. Linzy Marie Lauren who is cast as Roxy portrayed Magenta in a local version of The Rocky Horror Show. Terrence Scott has the role of Chris; he was previously seen in Phase Eight’s Ruined and Players by the Sea’s Pontypool.
In the interest of avoiding spoilers, we won’t delve further into the plot or reveal who is in love with whom.
We can tell you that this is an interactive production – the cast moved about the tables during their performance – destroying the fourth wall – and audience members were served the same delightful dishes prepared for Roxy.
The menu was the creation of Nola Executive Chef Amanda Henninger, in collaboration with the playwright. The five courses included Avocado Baguette; Prosciutto + Asparagus; Watermelon + Feta Salad; Beef Burgundy (vegetarian substitution available); and Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream. All simply delicious.
The program noted that the performance was made possible in part due to the generous support of Julie and Michael McKenny.
MOCA Jacksonville is a private nonprofit visual arts educational institution and cultural institute of the University of North Florida. Thanks go to MOCA and Phase Eight for a well-presented evening of contemporary theatre combined with artful food. Let’s do it again in the future.