THE CAKE

Atwater Village Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

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Critics LemonMeter

94%

Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) stars as Della, a baker who makes cakes, not judgment calls — those she leaves to her husband. But when the girl she helped raise comes back home to North Carolina to get married, and the fiancé is actually another fiancée, Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for hesrself. A world premiere play from Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This Is Us), running through Aug 13 at The Echo Theater Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039; Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm; $20-$34; 310-307-3753 or www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Reviews

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"Treating all of her characters with the utmost affection and respect, Bekah Brunstetter has written that rarity among LGBT-themed plays, one that might actually inspire baby steps towards mutual understanding. I laughed, I cried, I learned, I loved, and like a certain someone who shall remain nameless, I am better for having tasted The Cake."

"On paper, the situation seems fairly black and white—I certainly believe, as I am sure the vast majority of the Los Angeles theatergoing audience does, in same-sex marriage and equal rights, and it would be easy to condemn Della’s choices and leave it at that. But thanks to nuanced writing and a brilliant performance from Rupp, it becomes a very layered, thought-out argument, one that doesn’t demonize religion or conservatism and instead explores what can happen if people on both sides of the sociopolitical spectrum take a moment to try to understand each other."

"As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to take on the case of the Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, Bekah Brunstetter introduces us to a similarly burdened Della (Debra Jo Rupp), a sweetly dutiful god-fearin’ housewife who has found fulfilment in her own small storefront baking business. Director Jennifer Chambers’ cast is uniformly golden and it’s especially glorious to see Rupp onstage playing a darker, naked-er version of Kitty Forman, but the incredibly funny and promising Brunstetter still needs to go back to the drawing board to tie everything up with a bit less episodic television-like ease. As is, The Cake is hilarious, potentially moving, but... well... slightly undercooked."

"Cake tries to find understanding between two types of people and often succeeds in humanizing both sides in a very difficult topic for some to discuss. "

"Della is, of course, the central character who must decide, thinking for herself out of her own experience for maybe the first time in her life, to bake or not to bake. Rupp is pure genius at evolving this wacky character into surreal believability. It is to the playwright’s credit that all of her characters are congenitally flawed. Yes, we the audience undoubtedly enter the theatre with preconceived notions of right and wrong, but the characters meant to embody these principles are not necessarily so likable. Della is not the only one with “issues.” Actually, one of the issues is the wisdom of spending so much money on a wedding at all."

"Every element of The Cake has been superbly created and is being exquisitely performed on stage. It is simply brilliant and deserves full attention."

"In Bekah Brunstetter’s well-written world premiere by Echo Theater, Della—who daydreams about, and is soon to appear on, the “Great American Baking Show” as a contestant—will find her deep-rooted beliefs and long-term marriage challenged by Jen’s decision. A recommended event? Absolutely."

"Brunstetter’s writing is pretty much one-sided...Jennifer Chambers has done a fine job of directing and the cast delivers strong performances, especially Rupp. This is one instance where you can see The Cake and get to eat it also (in the lobby after the show)."

"That [Debra Jo Rupp] is here now in Los Angeles, and appearing onstage in Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake through August 6, is proof that God indeed loves the world, smiles on California, and wishes our civilization to flourish."

"Overcoming disappointment and finding fulfillment are not always easy to attain, but this show will not disappoint. Director Jenifer Chambers’ delicate hand never shows as these skilled actors tell this important story."

"Director Jennifer Chambers’s efficient staging (on designer Pete Hickock’s photorealist storefront set) makes the most of the script’s situational comedy, connecting Brunstetter’s satiric jabs at both Macy’s puritanical self-righteousness and Della’s unexamined hypocrisy. But it is finally Rupp’s endearing and deeply felt portrayal of a woman groping beyond the parochialism of received beliefs that elevates The Cake from mere sententiousness into something far more hopeful and moving."

"The Cake, Bekah Brunstetter’s superb new play, is a ninety-minute wonder spiked with moments of high hilarity as well as scenes of ripe emotion that sear the heart."

"“The Cake” explores human conflict from an insightful, slightly offbeat perch with understanding, respect and compassion for opposing points of view — and without dumbing down or sentimentalizing its characters."

"It's a strikingly lovely play, never condescending to its characters, very funny, and, with Rupp, an actress I blush to admit about whom I had never heard, an actress who gives a master class in comic timing with her Della: subtle, wise, fast-moving, never faltering, which makes her anguish all the more palpable...This is exceptional theater, in the writing, directing, acting and in the smart use of the wide stage...It's always fun and rewarding to see theater that so boldly attacks the issues of the day, so see it now."

"The Echo Theater Company's world premiere of playwright Bekah Brunstetter's THE CAKE brilliantly demonstrates the success of following a winning recipe for a memorable theatre production. Start with Brunstetter's witty, relationship-focused script on very timely, hot-button issues of today; generously add a talented cast of actors (led by the most delicious Debra Jo Rupp); mix well with Jennifer Chambers' sure-handed direction; and top off with perfectly synchronized and fitting technical elements; and you have a very well-executed THE CAKE."

"The Cake is a timely tale; and being timely, it’s difficult to do well. (It’s hard to hear durable truths through all the momentary noise.) But Brunstetter’s work doesn’t collapse; and it’s no mere confection. It seriously addresses some of our most painful concerns, while allowing us to laugh — and to hope. That’s what comedy’s about, after all: affirming the hope that somehow we’ll get through this. Staring at the angry abyss that has opened in our land, we need it. Thanks to Brunstetter and the folks at Echo Theater Company for taking the time to get it right."

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