Review: The Cake at the Horizon Theatre
The Cake has a muscular point of view, an incredible cast, and the best use of Mashed Potatoes I’ve seen onstage.
The Cake at its foundation is a show about home. That place that never truly changes no matter how long you leave it, some things are always the same. But is that always a good thing?
The Cake has been around for a while, some would say it’s been “in the oven” for over a decade. With its initial readings starting at the Alliance Theatre to its development through the Alley Theatre and Ojai Playwrights conference. It was finally produced at Echo Theatre Company in Los Angeles and since then it’s made it’s off broadway premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club. Now,The Cake is being produced around the country.
It’s easy to see why the Horizon would choose a piece like this. It’s got a big heart, packs big laughs, hits heavy in the emotions, and deals with something its audiences can relate to. I really enjoyed “people watching” for this one. I like to see how pieces with “muscular points of view” land with audiences.
(Muscular points of view- An uncompromising narrative with everything supporting or driving that view forward)
It’s most interesting seeing older audience members interact with this show. The Cake is hilarious, provocative, and unmoving in what it’s saying. So you look into the audience and see both sides of this conflict that takes place in the show.
The Cake is about a North Carolina Baker, Della, who’s as sweet as pie and as southern christian as they come. With the prospects of the Great American Baking Show on the horizon, she has a battle of faith when her best friend’s daughter asks her to make the wedding cake for her same sex marriage. From here, she struggles and picks apart her beliefs, what’s right, and if love can be wrong.
In the audience, You see your Tims and Dellas, those people that follow the directions and do their best to live by what they were taught. Then you see your Macys and Jens, those people that are trying to change the world we live in and the way we think in it. And that’s where the magic lies. The moment I saw someone start to tense up, there was a joke that immediately disarmed them again. It has this way of knowing exactly how an audience is feeling and manages to balance the scales right when it gets uncomfortable.
On top of its incredible writing, the Horzion has a assembled a CAST.
Featuring Marcie Millard (Della), Allan Edwards (Tim), Rhyn Saver (Jen), And Parris Sarter (Macy). It’s one of those shows that gives each character their moment on the podium. You get to pull back the curtain and take a look into who they are. For Jen, this show’s about internal warfare . What to do when two sides of you are at odds, when your love doesn’t mix with your core. It’s choosing between a Love that’s always been there no matter how misguided it is or a found love that’s changed your life. For Macy, it’s walking onto enemy territory. Though it’s for the person you love, this town represents everything you hate about America. It represents your father’s lack of understanding and the people we brush off as ignorant or unworthy of our time because of their religious or political views.
For Tim, it’s something he’s seen on the news but had never hit home. Then everything begins to change and he’s got to decide if he’s going to change or get left behind. And finally for Della, it’s love. She says in the show that “Love is always harder,” she’s fighting with love and what she’s always known. Her life has been derailed and in the show, she’s free falling. There’s so many layers to the relationships that play out in this show.
My favorite part might be the specificity of the piece.
It’s easier for Tim and Della to say “The World’s going crazy because of them” but for “them” to become Jenny, that little girl they’d loved and cared for. It takes everything from a hypothetical plain to a very literal place. On the other side of the coin, Macy is faced with “Them” those people that don’t believe their love is right. One of the most powerful moments in the show is when Macy asks “why do you hate me?”. It’s a simple question but says so much more than any 10 page monologue could. The Cake also takes on our boundaries in relationships. How much we’re willing to compromise, what lines we don’t cross, and the things we might not tell each other. The Cake is saying a lot but always remembers what the story’s purpose is, to change perspectives.
Most importantly, these actors didn’t come to play. At. All.
They’re Atlanta favorites for a reason! Rhyn Saver is ridiculous. She’s got this magnetic joyful presence and it’s on full display as Jen. She’s a masterclass in moment to moment acting. When she’s in a scene, she’s there. It doesn’t matter what happens or goes wrong during the scene, that becomes her reality in that moment. Watching Jen take a stand against herself and asking if being agreeable is necessary or even acceptable. You see every thought form, be addressed, and pushed aside all in her performance. Whether it’s in the way she smiles, or a head tilt, or the smallest movement of an eyebrow, it’s mesmerizing.
Parris Sarter is also living truth onstage in this show and I appreciated it. There were no holds barred, it was raw and I’m thankful for it. It didn’t feel like she’d been given these lines, they came from a real place almost like she’d said it herself. Allan Edwards is a king! His comedic instincts are unmatched. Period. Full stop. He’s one of the funniest actors I’ve gotten to witness onstage.Then we get to the Queen we call Marcie Millard. The accent alone should be award winning. She nails the smallest details of who Della is. And by far the bravest actor I’ve seen onstage, I won’t spoil it but when you see the show you’ll know why she reigns above all.
Her best moments in the show come during Della’s “soliloquy” moments. They take place like an interview segment on a reality TV show. And they’re just so good and honest. The show sets up who she is in its first moments and you can see she’s the sweetest. (All puns intended) she’s sweet to her core, so when she comes into conflict with everything around her, you feel for her. You care about her.
This show’s got a big heart but doesn’t have a long run so get to the Horizon Theatre now to see Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake! Buy tickets here!