From left: Glynn Cosker, Mark Sickler and Tracy Cosker in M&D at the Eastern Slope Inn’s production of Wendy MacLeod’s “Slow Food.” The play will be available virtually April 30, May 1, May 8 and May 9. (LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)
Review: ‘Slow Food’ is light, fluffy meal
ALEC KERR: CONWAY DAILY SUN
CONWAY — Live theater returns to the stage at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse for the first time since the fall. Well, sort of.
M&D is presenting “Slow Food,” its second virtual production of the year, following February’s “Standing on Ceremony, The Gay Marriage Plays,” which will be available for 48-hour rentals on Friday, April 30, Saturday, May 1, Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9.
Unlike “Standing on Ceremony” which was recorded via Zoom, “Slow Food” was recorded on the stage of the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse by Meg Simone. It is a slick, professional-looking video production with multiple camera angles and seamless editing by Simone.
“Slow Food,” by Wendy McLeod, centers on Irene (Tracy Cosker) and Peter (Glynn Cosker), a couple celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary with a trip to Palm Springs. After a fairly disastrous start to their trip, they are hoping to get a nice meal at a Greek restaurant, but there’s one small hurdle in accomplishing this goal: Their nightmarish waiter Stephen (Mark Sickler).
Mark Sickler (left) and Tracy Cosker in “Slow Food.”
(LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)
The couple are recent empty nesters who are attempting to understand what it means to be together without the kids around. There are a lot of familiar conversations that turn into bickering matches about lack of intimacy, lack of communication, and concerns about whether the kids will amount to anything.
There are also more tender moments, as when a potential cancer scare is broached or when Peter admits he hates his job but felt he needed to provide for his family, the latter of which could’ve been further explored in MacLeod’s script.
MacLeod also wrote the dark comedy “House of Yes,” which M&D produced in 2019. “House of Yes” featured stylized dialogue, unsettling themes and surreal flourishes. “Slow Food” is a much lighter and direct piece of theater.
Glynn Cosker (left) and Mark Sicker in “Slow Food.”
(LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)
In “Slow Food,” MacLeod’s dialogue has a realistic ring to it that is delivered ideally by Tracy and Glynn. We slowly learn more about the couple, including their professions, through the natural flow of the conversation rather than through clunky exposition.
Tracy and Glynn, a real-life couple, bring authenticity to Irene and Peter. Their chemistry reflects that of a couple that has been together for years. They get under each other’s skin like no one else can, but you can sense the genuine affection. When they look in each other’s eyes, you can feel the love. This is especially true of a climatic serenade.
But then there’s Stephen, quite possibly the world’s most obtrusive and obnoxious waiter, played to hilarious perfection by Sickler. Stephen is the kind of waiter who thinks he knows best. He judges your order, and tries to force his own suggestions.
As Peter notes, they are being held hostage by Stephen whose constant trips to the kitchen and inability to place the order keep delaying the meal. The couple can’t leave because it is the last place open.
First-time director Christine Thompson, a regular actor for M&D for years, does nice work with the characters. The three characters all feel real, rather than caricatures — even Stephen, who, as written, could become overly cartoonish. Stephen is flamboyant and over-the-top, but Thompson and Sickler hint to the fact that he is lonely and that his attempts to ingratiate himself with his patrons is an extension of this. The problem is he has no boundaries.
Glynn Cosker (left) and Tracy Cosker in “Slow Food.”
(LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)
There are several laugh-out-loud funny set pieces, including Peter attempting to flirt with Stephen in hopes of expediting the order process; Stephen mourning the death of his cat; and banter in which Stephen insists Peter is an alcoholic because he keeps insisting on the delivery of a Sam Adams.
Thompson keeps the play moving at an even pace but also allowing for quieter, more intimate moments. At 95 minutes, it is a breezy, funny and even heartwarming watch.
Tickets can be purchased by clicking the link below and are $19.99 for April 30, May 1 and 8, and pay what you can ($9.99 minimum) on May 9.