Friday, March 17, 2017

Review of Filament Theatre's The Van Gogh Cafe at Fannie's Cafe

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Van Gogh Cafe. It was adapted by Andrew J. Lampl from the book by Cynthia Rylant. It was directed by Julie Ritchey. Menu development was by Chef Tony Golec and Stephanie Rybandt. It was about a cafe in Flowers, Kansas, run by Clara (Aissa Guerra) and her dad Marc (Les Rorick), where a lot of very strange occurrences happen. It is about family, how food brings us together, and magic. The interesting thing about this show is it was basically dinner theater where the dinner was centered around the events and food in the play. I thought this was a really fun show. I think it is a great outing for the whole family and I really liked it.

I thought the food was very delicious. I was surprised that it was because usually the theater is the main selling point in dinner theater. But in this case they were both equally good! The first course was a veggie muddle which was basically potatoes and other vegetables in a creamy cheesy garlic sauce. I think that was delicious. The lemon meringue pie was absolutely scrummy (as Mary Berry would say). It was very tangy and it was very firm, which was good becauseI don't like runny pies. The crust was really good and crisp and flaky. All five courses were tasty, but I think my favorite was the blueberry muffin, though I did have a problem with the size. They said in the story they were supposed to be mini. But I did see a preview so they may have changed the size since then. I thought the muffin was very delicious. I had to bring some of mine home because I can't eat too much in a short period of time, and they were still good the next morning. When I finished it I was sorry there wasn't more. "Why?!" I shouted to the blueberry muffin gods!

I thought that the "Lightning Strike" scene was hilarious but kind of dramatic because Marc got struck by lightning, but apparently the lightning was very artistic lightning and it made him want to write a bunch of poems. He writes these poems that seem to tell the future, like he wrote one for a woman (Lindsey Dorcus) about yellow flowers and then later she got yellow flowers from an admirer (Rejinal Simon). And because of the lighting strike the kitchen starts cooking for itself, which was a lucky thing because we got the delicious lemon meringue pie out of that.

Another element that I really liked was how they used direct address. I am not usually a really big fan of direct address but this time I thought that the whole experience was already so inclusive of the audience that it was actually a really good idea. At the beginning of the story, Judy Jones (Kristina Loy) was right behind us and would touch our chairs and talk directly to us, which I thought was really cool because it made you feel like you really were at the Van Gogh Cafe. I think if this had been a production on a regular stage, I would not have liked this element so much because it would have seemed artificial, but in this case it was welcome. Another thing near to the beginning that I liked was how they gave out animal ears to people so they could play the stray animals that had come to get food. I had already come adorned in puffball ears and my dad got to play a dog which was a hilarious moment in my life because I don't think I've ever seen him in public wearing dog ears, though I think it suited him very well!

My favorite scene was "The Silent Star." I thought that it was really heartwarming. A silent film star (Simon) has come to the Van Gogh Cafe because it is in a former theater that he used to perform in. Marc has been a fan of this star for years and they have a very long conversation about his movies, which you don't get to hear. I would have liked to have heard more of that conversation because I am very interested in silent movies and I love them. Then we get to the kind of sad part which is where the silent star dies because he has come there where he started his career to end his career. And now he gets to be reunited in death with his friend (Alex Ireys)--or maybe more than a friend--who had also performed with him a long time ago. And they started waltzing together which I thought was very sweet. I thought this scene was a nice change from the light nature of most of the other scenes.

People who would like this show are people who like artistic lightning, silent movie stars, and lemon meringue pie. I think this is a really really fun show. I thought it had great food and a great story and I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Filament Theatre

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