REVIEW: Table Manners @ Public House Theatre

Always a Lady. Never a Tramp.

Table MannersWhen you put up a show about women and food theres’s a real good chance for disaster. However, when you put up a show about women and food and you cut the crap, you’ll find that seven ladies not only can hold delightful conversation but they’re funny and they have exquisite Table Manners.

Table Manners is a quippy display of female reflection, affirmation and mastication. It’s the food baby of these seven ladies and it’s a treat.

Everything in this show revolved around food and the way it affects our daily lives, specifically for women. It cuts out the gossip columns, stereotypes and diets and goes straight to the heart of all the crap we feed ourselves — both literally and mentally. It is an honest portrayal of females’ relationships with food. Now, I know what you’re thinking — great, some sob story about how women have it tough. No, not at all. Table Manners addresses very real issues, but also addresses the comical side of how influential food has become in our culture. From slaughtering family pet pigs for dinner to literally “eating like a bird” and questioning where Easy Cheese and blue raspberries come from, it’s smart, insightful and honest.

One of my favorite scenes included a “pigeon” rap about junk food, which was not only hilarious, but skillfully delivered. The second was a “banana dance of seduction.” Yes, think about that. Every sexual innuedo you’ve ever seen, heard or inquired about bananas was displayed on stage. They held back nothing.

The monologues were amazing. Janelle Cheyne delivered an educational monologue on being a Canadian trying to make it in comedy. Which was essentially an in-depth political dialogue ultimately concluding that Canadians are encouraged not to have opinions and therefore making it difficult to find success in comedy going through life with no opinions on anything. But as she discussed gun control, health care, same sex marriage, abortion and economic debt, she did so by stuffing marshmallows in her mouth. Impressive to say the least. Kaitlin Larson has a presence on stage that is irrefutable. Her monologue left me with chills. There’s really nothing I could say that would do it justice. Lastly, every layer Ellen McMahon shed, she gained one more layer of vulnerability as she shared her story of losing over a hundred pounds and what it actually does to a person. Posing the question of whether it’s better to be “fat, happy and funny or thin, sad and scared.” When before and after photos of her were brought on stage, she drove home the point that putting these photos on Facebook will garner more “Likes” than anything else she will ever accomplish. Which is sad, but given our societal disposition, she could be right.

If I could offer a few suggestions, I would cut a couple scenes and make the hour and a half show into an hour with no intermission. I’d trim down the family pig dinner scene, the elderly ladies who celebrate dinner theatre in birthday Spanx, the Cheesecake Factory scene where mom is on a diet but “treats” herself to cheesecake and the scene delivered almost line by line from the movie Matilda where the student eats an entire chocolate cake. Everything else is strong, fast-paced and fun and clearly won over the audience.

These ladies are fierce. They are smart, brave and not afraid to voice their opinions. Cassie Ahiers did a beautiful job directing this show and I look forward to more productions from her. Table Manners opened to a theatre so packed, it was standing room only and now I know why. These ladies should pack the house every night and you should be there at least once.

Table Manners plays at The Public House Theatre on Wednesdays in May at 8pm. Treat yourself.

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posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Chatter, Reviews

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