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Aisle Seat: Food for Thought While Savoring One-Act Gems

Updated: Apr 11

By Naomi Serviss / New York City


The author at Theatre 80
The author at Theatre 80

Sometimes a soupçon


of a gourmet repast


is just the ticket.


Same for live theater.


Food for Thought Productions (FFTP),


the brainchild


of playwright Susan Charlotte,


is proof that less is more.


On March 28th,


the East Village’s Theatre 80


at St. Mark’s Place


marked its 22-year opening


with the always-smartly coiffed


and put together Blythe Danner.


Predictably hangdog


comedic actor Bob Dishy


played the foil.


FFTP celebrates snack bites


of one-act plays


by Neil Simon, George S. Kaufman,


Arthur Miller, and other legendary talents.


Pre-Covid, FFTP offered a buffet lunch


before a performance.


On May 24th, the buffet tradition


will relaunch,


enthused Charlotte.


Blythe Danner
Blythe Danner

The March 28th souffle


of three one-act plays


was delightfully filling.

Danner and Dishy


have worked together before,


their affable chemistry was palpable.


Laughter often erupted


from an enthusiastic crowd.


The trio of amuse-bouches


was recorded


for an upcoming FFTP documentary.


Watching two pros pitch zingers


was a delicious affair.


They played off one another


with witty dialogue and gestures.

There wasn’t a bad seat in the house.


I was so close to the stage


(aisle seat, natch),


I could hear the rustling


of the script’s pages as they turned.


It was like eavesdropping on old friends.


Or relatives you still like.


Danner embellished her lines


by fussing with her hair.


Dishy’s lived-in face


spilled every emotion.

Expressive eyes and eyebrows


telegraphed astonishment or delight.

By turns he played


cranky, exasperated,


generous and forgiving.


All convincingly.


Stage directions were read


by Michael Citriniti.


The performances were directed


by Antony Marseilles.


The three one-acts were:



Amicable Parting


by George S. Kaufman and Leueen MacGrath


Forward by the authors:


“This is meant to be high comedy.


It should be played lightly, gayly.


Never emotionally.


Thank you.”


The action unfolded


in Alice and Bill Reynolds’


sumptuously decorated living room.


The couple oozes wealth.


They have all the trappings:


expensive books, art and domestic dismay.


Agreeing to separate,


they determine


to split possessions amicably


and without rancor.


They put dibs on the stuff they want


with a name sticker.


Fireworks ensued,


resolutions offered,


and a good time was had by all.


Bob Dishy and stage director Michael Citriniti
Bob Dishy and David Palmer, head of the Arthur Miller Society

Commercial Break


by Peter Stone


Oscar-, Tony- and Emmy-winner


Peter Stone pitches heat


on another couple,

Catherine and Harry Crocker,


wed for 15 years.


Harry is an advertising executive,


or a “professional liar”


according to his wife,


the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs.


Catherine suspects Harry


is carrying on with his secretary


And lying about most everything, to boot.


In a last-ditch effort


to save their union,


Catherine demands Harry


create a commercial on the spot.


The product? Himself!


If Catherine rejects Harry’s ad,


she’ll shop for a better deal.



Sidebar:


What do Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant


have to do with Commercial Break?


Peter Stone wrote a monologue


for Hepburn,


recorded it for Stone’s classic Charade.


In a cruel twist of fate,


the monologue didn’t make the final cut.


But wait, there’s more!


Stone revised the monologue for Grant,

who also starred


in Stone’s Oscar-winning Father Goose.


Grant recorded it,


only for it to be,


once again,


edited out.


Stone then developed the monologue


into the one-act play,


Commercial Break.


That’s show biz!



Tallulah Finds Her Kitchen


Written for Tallulah Bankhead


by Neil Simon, Danny Simon and Joseph Stein.


This is a monologue


written for Tallulah Bankhead.


It’s about a woman’s sparkly new relationship


with her kitchen!


The problem to be solved: how to use it.


Bob Dishy and the author
Bob Dishy and the author

A cast Q&A followed


the lively two-hour presentation.


Beginning with FFTP’s May 24th performance,


both Theatre 80


and a former venue, 3 West Club,


will offer buffet lunch.


Like the days of yore.


Covid killed everyone’s appetite.


We’re still cautiously baby-stepping


into literal life,


as opposed to two-dimensional Zoom life.


After the last one-act,


Danner and Dishy


greeted giddy fans on stage.


This scene was the most filling repast


without having consumed one calorie.


As the Dormouse in


Alice in Wonderland urged:


“Feed Your Head.”


Duly noted.


 






Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com

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