Bec Willett is an Australian, Chicago-based director, designer, educator, and writer. She has worked on projects with an array of Chicago theater companies, including 20% Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, City Lit, Dandelion Theatre, Prologue Theatre, and Waltzing Mechanics. To find out more about her work and upcoming projects, please visit becwillett.com.
(left to right): Tif Harrison, Bilal Dardai, Kyra Sims, Oliver Camacho. Photo by Joe Mazza at Brave Lux.
By Bec Willet
We all have stories about food that define who we are. An anecdote about eating too much – or too little. The last meal with a loved one. That family recipe that made us believe in ourselves, and then the one that broke our spirits. The foods that will forever smell and taste like nurture, or sickness, or comfort or heartbreak. Our concept of food is a tightly woven coil of opinions and experience and ritual that is deftly teased apart in The Neo-Futurists and Metropolitan Brewery’s collaborative effort: THE FOOD SHOW.
This 70-minute sketch show is centered around a menu, a cycle taking place with each dish: The performer/writers tease out ideologies and anecdotes through an array of different styles and techniques, before diving into one performer’s story. Bilal Dardai speaks to the isolation that school lunches can create for a child, Oliver Camacho to food’s ability to provide approval, Tif Harrison to the healing powers of cooking, Kyra Sims to the scents that are shrines to those long gone, and Spencer Meeks to food’s irritating necessity. It’s a strong ensemble who, as they go through these interwoven cycles, are almost always in tune with each other and the show’s complex rhythms – something that will only get better after a few more runs.
Performed in Metropolitan’s warehouse in Avondale (soon to be next to their new brewery) the non-theatrical space isn’t always ideal. While the acoustics allow the voice of classically trained Camacho to soar as it beautifully underscores some of the sketches, at times it is difficult to decipher some of the dialogue. However, the space also does allow them to “make a mess,” allowing for a full kitchen on stage in addition to moving scenic parts that are necessary to facilitate the style and content of the show.
There’s a memorable vulnerability and generosity in the performers and the stories they share in THE FOOD SHOW not often seen on stage. As an audience member you feel accepted and welcomed to have different opinions, but also to engage in conversation – no small feat for a subject that is so loaded. If I imagine what the perfect meal with loved ones would be like, THE FOOD SHOW is exactly how I think it would feel: people who know your rhythms, respect your boundaries, and love you just how you are.
THE FOOD SHOW plays at Metropolitan Brewing’s Avondale Warehouse, 3031 N. Rockwell, through September 2nd. More information at neofuturists.org.