Equal parts drama and comedy, Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake is a tender look at the way we approach viewpoints contrary to our own and how, when we love someone, we believe we can shift.
Inspired by the headline-making case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012, The Cake shifts the action to Della’s cake shop in North Carolina. When her best friend’s daughter comes to visit and announces that she’s getting married, Della is initially ecstatic. When she discovers Jen is marrying a woman though, her conservative Christian beliefs get in the way.
Telling the two woman she cannot make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, the pronouncement causes Jen to begin questioning her own love, becoming the catalyst for a complex journey of understanding.
While this clash between religion and gay rights could easily come across as straightforward or even demonizing of one side of the spectrum, Brunstetter’s script opens a window into each person’s views, where past and upbringing have affected their journeys.
An effective balance, Brunstetter provides access to the humanity on both sides, allowing the audience an empathy to both perspectives, and director Angela Konrad’s light approach ensures a balanced approach to each character.
As Della, Erla Faye Forsyth carries the show with her punchy one-liners and charming southern naivety. Stephanie Elgersma plays wide-eyed Jen, whose own Christian past leads her to question her decisions, despite the love she feels for her to-be wife. In a powerful performance Cecilly Day plays Jen’s fiance Macy as the strong opinionated gay woman who has a hard time understanding where Della is coming from. Tim Dixon plays Della’s bumbling husband Tim with a sense of charm.
Set in the cake shop and the homes of the two couples, designer Lauchlin Johnston has created a two-part set, which transforms from bakery to bedroom. This lofty design may be necessary for the play, but becomes repetitious as the bed is hoisted each time to create the wall of the cake shop. To help with the transitions, which drag on a little too long, lighting designer Michael K. Hewitt has created a cool distraction with cake lights that seem to be floating in the air.
Props master Ariel Slack has created dozens of beautiful cakes that fill up the shop. They are pristine and look delicious.
The Cake is a powerful and hilarious exploration of how our beliefs are shaped and how we can alter our values when it comes to the ones we love.
The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter. Directed by Angela Konrad. On stage at The Pacific Theatre (1440 West 12th Ave, Vancouver) until June 8. Visit pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.