Theater review: Food and How to Eat It

Asheville has a reputation. Well, it actually has several. But this one is the “foodie” reputation that comes with all the diverse restaurants. And with the large variety of food options, there’s a high degree of pretentiousness. And with such pretentiousness, there comes good natured, fun-poking. Magnetic Theatre dishes it out in heaping portions in its newest sketch comedy show, Food, And How To Eat It.

If you want an evening of heaps with laughter, this is the show for you. Magnetic takes a few dashes of comedy spice and ladles on the special sauce that is the talented ensemble of Katie Langwell, Valerie Meiss, Glenn Reed and Scott Fisher, all of whom shared in the writing chores with director Steve Samuels.

The show is a series of sketches. When you say “sketch comedy” people instantly draw up comparisons to “Saturday Night Live,” but I found myself being more reminded of the British series, “A Bit of Fry And Laurie” from the late ’80s and early ’90s. It relied heavily on the two hosts (Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie) playing myriad characters in sketches that were sometimes only a few seconds long, and somewhat random in their offbeat humor.

Fry and Laurie also had recurring bits throughout, which is a wonderful conceit of Magnetic’s Food. There are a series of Yelp! reviews (the cast performs these in an isolated light) that are so funny, you’re left wondering if they are actual Yelp! reviews (which can be wildly, unintentionally funny) or concoctions of the mad science comedy minds on display here. There are also recurring bits involving CSA deliveries, sending up the whole community gardening craze.

The show opens and closes with classic musical theatre send ups that take the song “Tradition” from Fiddle On The Roof, and “Somewhere” from West Side Story, and give them a good goosing that would make Weird Al weep a tear of joy. (“Tradition” becomes “Nutrition” while “Somewhere” unfolds into “somewhere there’s a plate for us” rather than “a place for us.”)

Sometimes the show delves into some mild adult language, but is otherwise generally accessible. It’s filled with ice cream trucks turned into tuna cone trucks, monster food truck face offs done with transforming puppets, mocking of high-brow menu items in pretentious restaurants, and so much more. Even the cast bios and other inserts in the playbill are filled with joke upon joke to prime the audience as they read before the show — or to keep them going in the intermission.

Food And How To Eat It runs at the BeBe Theatre through Saturday, Jan. 17, with shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (though Saturday was sold out at press time) at 7:30 p.m. $18-$21. Buy advance tickets here.

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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2 thoughts on “Theater review: Food and How to Eat It

  1. Jason W.

    A slight correction: Lisa Yoffee is a writer for the show, but Katie Langwell is the 4th cast member.

    Also ‘Fiddle on the Roof’ is a COMPLETELY different show.

  2. Steven Samuels

    Thanks for the lovely review! To expand upon Jason’s welcome correction: not only is Katie Langwell the fourth member of the ensemble, she’s also one of the primary writers. Lisa Yoffee, who did a great deal of the writing, is not a performer, but she’s also the associate producer. And though the props aren’t mentioned, they’re a huge part of the show, too, and are the work of Valerie (also the puppetmaker), Scott, and Lisa. The astonishing sound design is by Mary Zogzas and Jason did the lovely lights.

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