“The Food Show” recognizes the scale of subject matter. Food is not usually just about food. Food is usually about the complex confluence of factors that divine the flavor of the poached egg or the pickled beets or the ham-and-cheese sandwiches that grace your table. Food is about family, time and comfort. Food is about politics and responsibility. Food is about taste.
Food, really, is about almost everything. And in creator Dan Kerr-Hobert’s show, everything is touched upon. Framed in a huge warehouse space, the set is dressed with cooking supplies, a fish tank inhabited by a pink fish named Scaramouche, a piano and a cow suit (mysteriously unused). Cast members run back and forth between the supply shelf, the prep table, piano, all while maintaining the nervous energy of a dinner party.
The program (a menu) details a rough approximation of the courses for the evening. Tif Harrison poaches the perfect egg to cope with Trauma. Bilal Dardai prepares sandwiches for his son’s allergies. Kyra Sims plays the French horn and asks why her mother cut two inches off the pot roast. Oliver Camacho plays psychologist and host; he sears salmon and flirts with a guest. Meanwhile, Spencer Meeks plays piano and drinks Soylent.
That very breadth of the show is both a blessing and burden: on the one hand, there is so much depth and complexity that the cast and Kerr-Hobert acknowledge. On the other hand, they often glance over it in favor of continuing. Climate change and animal cruelty are omnipresent (Scaramouche stares at you while Camacho prepares the fish). There’s mention of food deserts but they often feel disconnected from the cast’s experiences. Some of this is inherent in the work of five different people performing from their own lives. But sometimes it also feels like a desire to fit everything into seventy minutes, sacrificing clarity for broadness.
When all is said and done though the performers are warm and inviting. Seeing “The Food Show” feels like five people opening their home to you. The music is good, the smells are stellar. Everything is just right for us to sit down and enjoy. (Jay Van Ort)
The Neo-Futurists at 3031 North Rockwell, (773)878-4557, neofuturists.org. $10-$25 with Pay-what-you-can performances on Thursdays. Through September 2.