Monday, November 5, 2012

The Kitchen Witches -- Ivoryton

Lisa Foss and Beverly J. Taylor. Photo: Anne Hudson
The Kitchen Witches Dish Up a Different Kind of Food Fight
By Lauren Yarger
Hurricane Sandy might have postponed the opening of The Kitchen Witches at Ivoryton Playhouse (it had been set for Halloween night), but her fury pales in comparison to the storm of insults and one-upmanship taking place on the set of this cooking show set in Canada.

Dolly Biddle (Lisa Foss) is preparing the last supper – the last Ukrainian supper on her local access TV show “Cooking with Babka” that is -- when her nemesis, Cordon-Bleu-trained Isobel Lomax (Beverly J. Taylor), star of the already cancelled “Busy with Izzy” shows up on the set (a kitchen with island all decked out in purple with two dressing rooms at either side designed by Dan Nischan).

Izzy used to date Dolly’s late husband, the father of Stephen (Carl Howell), who just happens to be the show’s producer and director. When Izzy flaunts a Biddle family heirloom ring and causes Dolly’s apron to malfunction, their personal history boils over into the show’s dialogue and things heat up quickly. Suddenly, viewership is up and the station manager books them on a new show: “The Kitchen Witches.”

Insults, cooking competitions, family secrets bubbling to the surface and food fights are ingredients for a successful show, all captured by Rob, the camera guy (Casey McKeon), until that heirloom ring turns up missing and diabetic Dolly’s health takes a sudden turn for the worse.

While nothing is unpredictable in the plot, there is a nice portion of humor that makes this a lighthearted romp at just about two hours with an intermission. 

One bit involving a “celebrity judge” from the audience to select a winner in a dessert competition between the two cooks was particularly amusing. When the judge became very interested in Dolly’s rum balls, Howell enjoyed the scene so much he struggled to remember his lines and adlibbed to the further delight of the audience. 

The actors all seem to be having fun and Costume Designer LisaMarie Harry provides some zany aprons to assist. Director Maggie McGlone Jennings unfortunately doesn’t keep a tight hand on the pace, however, making the dialogue sound sluggish at points.

If you have an appetite for some dysfunction and food, The Kitchen Witches offers the right brew through Nov. 18 at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. An extra matinee has been added for Thursday, Nov. 15 at 2 pm. Tickets $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children: (860) 767-7318;

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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