Tuesday, 7 July 1998

Cakes Men Like July 7, 1998

Cakes Men Like, by Sat on the Hat
Athenaeum II, July 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Reviewed around July 6 1998

If you are looking for a cheap and novel lunch activity to interrupt your working or shopping day in the city centre, look no further than the Athenaeum Theatre II on Collins Street. While you watch a half-hour show, you can sup on soup provided by Heinz and yummy bread donated by Pott's Bakery. All this for only $5.

Soup Kitchen Theatre began this terrific little earner eight years ago and it has now been commandeered by another small company, Sat on the Hat. The first show of this winter season is Cakes Men Like that will be followed by Trudy Hellier's Trapped opening on August 4.

Cakes is a simple cautionary tale about housewifery in the 50's. This, of course, lends itself to satirical observations, songs from the period and some slightly patronising commentary from our high-horse 90's.

Director Greg Dyson works with three women, Charlie Laidlaw, Rosina Gannon and Amanda Armstrong, who portray three diverse characters who are trapped in the never-ending cycle of pleasing the men in their lives with their kitchen creativity.

The men invent appliances to make the lives of the women easier but, in fact, they end up literally incarcerated in their fridges singing Doris Day tunes, posing by the Frigidaire and telling their favourite cake recipes. It is like a fractured 50's Women's Weekly advertisement.

The catch is that, occasionally, the women go completely bonkers - inside their own heads. The pressure of being nice, providing for hubbie and kids, and keeping up appearances, is all too much.

The three are performers and devisers of this light, entertaining, if sometimes didactic piece. Laidlaw and Gannon are members of the very clever clown ensemble, Four on the Floor who are known for very physical comedy with sweet, wacky characters.

There is some of this style in Cakes but the pace is slower and the comedy less punchy. It could benefit from a bit more action and a lot less static talk. It is a dated style reminiscent of 70's feminist street theatre that damned the housefraus and their over-bearing husbands.

The comparisons of men to the kind of cakes they like were very funny. One tubby chap likes dumplings. Another eats meringue, " Crusty on the outside, sweet and sticky inside." But their dream man is a fruitcake. Rich, fruity and you can put him a way for a long time and he's even better when he comes out.

By Kate Herbert

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