It was a dark, bone-chilling, windy night in the West Village to see Now Serving: A Guide to Aesthetic Etiquette in Four Courses. Entering with apprehension into this intimate, warm, carefully choreographed enclave from the world of misogyny, I was met with smiling, gentle greetings enveloped in aural musical reminders from the 1940s and ’50s. From greeters to booth operators and ushers dressed in fanciful costumes I got a token, a prize, and a choice of refreshment from three options – beer, mints, or popcorn. One could not help but smile.
Palpable symbolism. As the curtain opened, a ghoulish setting of the color red (magic, power, love, seduction) met the eye from my assigned seat in the Peanut Gallery overlooking the long dinner table. An antique black and white TV displayed scenes of people eating dinner decades ago. Intravenous bags suspended from the ceiling delivered red wine, sanguine red liquid boiling lamps illuminated accompanied by repetitive mesmerizing digital aural sequences. Three delightful female actors (Amanda Bender, Erin Douglass, and Maggie Hoffman) began with a bread ritual, demonstrating to their dinner guests the proper manner to remove the crust with scissors from the white bread for consumption that had fallen from the ceiling. They were set around the table, delving in sometimes wacky, comedic sequences, garnished in fitting wardrobe tributes to the macabre mystery of their metaphoric safe space at this communal dinner venue.
Pepe the waiter (Eric Dyer) served as commanded. Dressed sharply, he sported an enormous green frog head likely representing transformation and transition, but ultimately losing his head to the hungry patrons who apportioned it into a meatloaf. This aligned with the occasional repartee about death. Hoffman tells us, “I want to be in charge of our death…is everything going to slip away?” They sip some wine and move on to the soup, perhaps pondering silently the gravitas of her rumination.
More lessons and fun. Too much sugar causes inflammation, some women apologize too often, salad greens can be propelled to the table after being tossed into an electric fan, the profundity, and sexuality of the elements of the dessert.
The music was dramatic, interesting, and varied, from the digitally produced tracks to the live violin, flute, and electronic keyboard. Of note was the recurring movie soundtrack of the song “Laura” from 1944. This musical theme conjures up an all-time misogynistic tragedy where a jealous older gentleman mentor mistakenly kills the wrong woman in an attempt to murder his young beautiful successful female protegee because he cannot possess her (seems the handsome young male police detective gets the girl). The song is sad, beautiful, and rich in context.
Do come out and experience this “dinner theatre”. You’ll get the big napkin you need and much to see, hear and think about in a safe space. A hands-on multi-media existential comedic experience.
Runtime is 70 minutes with no intermission.
Seating is limited.