New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

Connecticut Theater

"Play With Your Food"
various Fairfield County venues

“Play With Your Food,” the brainchild of Carol Schweid (Artistic Director) and Nancy Diamond (Executive Producer) is an unmitigated success, an idea whose time has come. They have chosen a witty—and appropriate—title for this remarkable project, which combines luncheons, play-readings, and talk-backs—all equally appealing. Ninety minutes out of one’s life, but what a ninety minutes!

This ever-expanding project has proved that the two women had an unerring sense of time and place. It all began ten years ago for the Schweid/Diamond team. At that time both were young mothers, members of a PTA Cultural Arts committee in Westport. Finding that both had a desire to develop a unique theatre program, they came up with the “Play With Your Food” concept and moved ahead.

Diamond and Schweid have proved to be a natural, with each contributing her particular strengths—Schweid’s directing skills and Diamond’s management skills, with probably a good deal of overlapping into each area. Today, “Play With Your Food” spans Fairfield County, with performances which have been held, not only in Westport, but Fairfield, Greenwich, Newtown, Woodbridge.

The team has found delightful—and often provocative--playlets which sound just the right note for its sophisticated audiences. Professional actors, many of whom appear again and again, are recruited from the large pool of performers in this area. The food, too, meets high standards, with caterers who vary month to month. And, icing on the cake, are the insightful talk-back sessions which follow the shows.

It is a win-win situation, in which every one wins—the best of theater and food for the audiences, work for the professional actors (who work on book and do not need to learn lines), and clients for the food providers.

On the day that this reviewer attended, “Play With Your Food” was hosted by the Fairfield Theatre Company in downtown Fairfield. Lunch was offered in one large room, buffet-style, with green salads and sandwich wraps, accompanied by beverages. The audience then moved next door, to the theater venue, packing the house.

The first play by Warren Leight, “The Loop,” was a light-hearted piece which concerned a prostitute and her client. No one comes to the rescue of this duo, who have just been robbed and bound with rope. Meanwhile, the give-and-take is hilarious—and deliciously interpreted by actors Alison Cimmet and John O’Hern. A more serious note is struck in “I Didn’t Know You Could Cook,” in which a brother faces the fact that his sibling is both gay and disabled. Josh Sienkiewicz and Dustin Sullivan take on this face-off with considerable skill. And yet more poignant is “I Know,” with E. Katherine Kerr and Tom Zingarelli playing a long-time couple faced with tragedy. These two seasoned actors capture the very essence of the piece.

And so it goes with “Play WithYour Food.” To the delight of its fans, the program continues to expand. April shows, several of which are already sold out, are scheduled for Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich. Yet there is still a chance for tickets (call 203-293-8831), for a taste of the best. It’s time to play with your food.

--Irene Backalenick
Mar. 22, 2012

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