The Cook brings to Seattle Repertory Theatre a whole new perspective on a historical event. When talking about Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba, we always seem to discuss the people who left Cuba, and not those who stayed behind. This story steps you through the gain and loss that the average Cuban family went through during this period.
Zabryna Guevara as Gladys, the cook, Jessica Pimentel as Elena, and A.K. Murtadha as Julio in The Cook. Photo by Chris Bennion.
This show focuses on the perspective of Gladys, a cook for a wealthy family. It goes through her entire life, showing how the revolution affected her and her family. She is obsessed with the idea that the old owner of the house that she is living in will come back. She anticipates it for forty years, only to be surprised by a guest.
The house, like Gladys’ hope, starts to deteriorate. The passage of time is shown through intense and convincing aging that is added during the second intermission. The bright walls turn into a yellow gray and some wallpaper appears to peel, showing Scenic Designer Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams’ brilliance at her art. The open layout of the kitchen makes you imagine the vastness of the entire house. All of the action appropriately takes place in the kitchen, showing the meaning of food to a family, especially Gladys’; throughout the story the only thing that tends to be consistent is Gladys and her food.
Over time every character but Gladys changes costume to follow the age. Everything from a communist workers suit to bright 70s pants is worn. Every costume accents the change that the character has gone through over the years. The 70s outfit worn by Gladys’ cousin is shocking compared to the rest of the drably-dressed family, though compared to what people were wearing in other parts of the world at the time, it doesn’t seem as extravagant. This is the perfect way to show what can be normal to some is deadly to others.
Every actor on the stage is worth their salt. They seem to capitalize on jumps between moments of joy as well as moments of pain. Whether they are switching characters or time periods, there is almost never a doubt in your mind as to exactly what is going on, even when nothing has seemed to change.
The always-open arms of the Seattle Repertory Theatre embrace everyone, from their audience to Eduardo Machado, the author of the play, who came to watch the show on opening night. I hope he was as impressed as I was at the actors’ ability to tell this heart-wrenching yet touching story. Overall, the heavy symbolism and quality of this production will keep anyone greatly entertained for the entire show.
November 7th, 2007
Note: This play contains some coarse language and discussion of sexuality. For more information on content, please contact Seattle Rep directly.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through December 1st
More info and show times: www.seattlerep.org
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Ticket Office Hours: Daily, noon – performance time
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