I’m sure that everyone out there has gone to a restaurant for dinner. And I’m sure that everyone knows that wait staff can be wonderful…and awful. But how many of you decided to write a play about just such an incident? Enter author Wendy McLeod, who was interviewed and described her real-life dining experience: “Everybody was tired and hungry, and it was Sunday night…and we found one restaurant still open…we sat down to order our meal, and we encountered the most extraordinary waiter that I’ve ever met…and by that I mean bad…the worst waiter I have ever ever had…he seemed to kind of thrill to his power to control whether or not we got our food and drinks and when we got them and who got them first…it was just a fascinating character study.” MacLeod turns this frustrating (and hungry) experience into a clever and often uproarious play entitled SLOW FOOD – and the International City Theatre (ICT) brings the tale to stage life.
The place – Palm Springs, California. The time – late Sunday evening. A tired but excited couple (Stu James and Meredith Thomas) have planned a glorious vacation to celebrate their twenty-third wedding anniversary – away from the kids and all the stresses of their everyday lives. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong – does. Their car rental fell through – so now they must drive a behemoth van that they didn’t order; they were late getting on the road and have been driving for hours; the hot tub in their luxury hotel is on the fritz. And now, discouraged and starving, they discover that every restaurant in Palm Spring is closed because of the late hour. Except one. A charming little Greek eatery that reminds her of time spent in Greece when she was younger.
Once they are seated, however, it doesn’t take long to find out that their waitperson (Perry Ojeda) is cranky, quirky, and just a bit controlling as he delays their food and drink while pushing his own perks, problems, and pleasures. The situation rapidly turns into “Hunger Games” as each tries to outwit the other to achieve some sort of goal – which appears to be simply winning against all odds. Soon the happily married couple starts to explore past experiences which weren’t perfect – and dreams which they may have missed – all while their wacky waitperson laments his inadequate love life and career choices. As their clashes escalate, their behavior deteriorates – and laughs abound. Try stealing a bread basket or a Sam Adams beer from under the nose of a vigilant waiter.
SLOW FOOD is a cunning and amusing look at events which most people probably wouldn’t explore quite so artfully – or with such funny results. Director Marya Mazor does an excellent job of keeping the laughs coming with the skilled help of three top-notch actors. The creative team – including costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey, prop master Patty Briles, and video editor Mike Bradecich – superbly “fill in the blanks.” This is an entertaining show which everyone will enjoy. SLOW FOOD will definitely tease the pallet of discerning viewers.
SLOW FOOD is a virtual presentation which streams April 29 through May 16, 2021 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets for $30 and are available for purchase online.