‘Free Food Forever’ has some interesting moments
As a long-time and committed theater attendee, I like it when a group of people take a risk by presenting a new theater piece with a different vision. It is especially interesting when the group is composed of mostly young local theater amateurs, as is the case with “Free Food Forever,” now playing at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley.
There are things to like about this play, directed and designed by Jimmy McCammon. I liked the play’s parody on the filming, several years ago in Nevada City, of the Hallmark movie, “A Christmas Card.”
The characters’ disembodied voices, sometimes in song, are periodically heard from unseen areas of the wings of the nicely constructed set and from behind the audience. Some of the singing voices, particularly those of Katie McCammon and Iona Swift, were particularly good.
I also liked the fact that musical instruments were carried onto the stage and played by the actors as part of their personas. And several of the conceits used – Ian Haines talking to and speaking for his hand puppet and the video broadcast of a Japanese-language newscaster using a voice-over in English – were novel and funny.
But I must not have been in sync with the playwright because some of the issues that he or she attempted to illuminate went right over my head. I did catch the overarching theme – that capitalism and big corporations are the bad guys and they oppress the common folk.
But some of the dialog seemed disjointed and, at times, its meaning was incomprehensible. Even a number of the exchanges between characters left me wondering about the purpose of that particular interaction or why that character was doing what he or she was doing.
The play has a good pace, and the action and singing kept my attention. I saw the opening night performance. With a bit more rehearsal to refine the roles, more careful articulation of dialog by the actors and some careful editing, “Free Food Forever” could prove to be a noteworthy new endeavor. It runs at the Off Center Stage through Saturday.
Hindi Greenberg is pleased that the Nevada County arts community is so diverse and provides a forum for so many different voices.
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