Theatrical Impressions: American Wee-Pie at Seattle Public Theater

February 7, 2014

David Goldstein and Tracy Leigh in American Wee-Pie at Seattle Public Theater. Photo by Paul Bestock.

Last night I took myself out to see American Wee-Pie by Lisa Dillman, performing at Seattle Public Theater (playing through February 16).

I was expecting something heartwarming and delightful, light and fluffy without a lot of heaviness to weigh it down. Instead I saw a middling piece that didn’t make me laugh out loud very often at all. Now, I love fluff as much as the next person (I routinely watched Friends and Seinfeld until I no longer had a TV and I adore New Girl, against my better judgment). But unfortunately for meWee-Pie wasn’t very funny at all.

I did appreciate the set and costume designs, which were executed quite lovingly, creating a fun universe that I was able to immerse myself into for a quick 90 minutes. But the script was as flat as I imagine the bizarre (and unappetizing) concoction of a cake baked into a pie crust is.

David Goldstein was the best part of the show (which is unfortunate for me as well, as a HUGE Tracy Leigh fan) with his physical comedy making me throw back my head back. He tasted his cupcakes like I do my coffee, and I adored it. But at the end, [SPOILER ALERT] the character reveals that Pableu (a great ridiculous French name) is not his real name at all. It’s Randy. And he dips into a Midwestern accent (the play takes place in unknown Northern Midwest), BUT WITH NO EXPLANATION. There he is, the end of the play, confirming our suspicions that his French accent is terrible ON PURPOSE and he confesses that he is not who he says he is HE IS LIVING A LIE and he doesn’t ask the protagonist to keep his secret??? Or say that he’s going to tell his wife???? HOW CAN YOU DROP A BOMB LIKE THAT?

I spent the last minutes of the play thinking about Randy and how gross a cake baked into a pie crust would be. (I like my food moist and rich, hence my love for frosting and pie filling.)

I also found the mailman creepy instead of endearing and was waiting for him to admit that he was schtooping the dead mother or had murdered her. Or both. Every time he came onstage I had to remind myself that this was not that type of play, and that was difficult.

Seeing the production made me think more about what I want to see on stage. What is my aesthetic? I commend SPT for producing this fluffy gem by a local playwright, but I know now that it’s not my slice of pie. But then what is my slice of pie? If I can critique this piece so strongly, what I am putting out into the world to counteract it? Currently, nothing.

So instead I step back, think about breath and timing (all of the cues were hit a little too early, undermining any sympathy I could have had for the characters) and aesthetic. I like magic in plays, I like spice, I like confrontation. And I like enough space to move, to think, to exist in a world that will only exist for a short amount of time. So I should work on that. I will continue to pursue the ephemeral and make that my focus.

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