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Written by Theresa Rebeck; directed by Moritz von Steulpnagel
Performances through December 15, 2019
Raúl Esparza and Krysta Rodriguez in Seared (photo: Joan Marcus)
It’s not surprising that behind the scenes of a Brooklyn restaurant would make for a rollicking good time, and Theresa Rebeck’s Seared is a fast-paced, often blisteringly funny study of the clashing personalities involved in the act of making food.
The action revolves around Harry, a self-centered chef (of course) who decides not to have his signature scallops dish on the menu after a rave review in New York magazine. His refusal to use his artistry for mere commerce causes endless headaches for his partner, Mike, who’s constantly pulling his hair out while running the place, along with go-getting waiter Rodney.
Harry’s genius at creating delicious dishes is such that, even with his stubbornness, Mike sticks by him and his idiosyncratic behavior. But Mike also hedges his bets by bringing in Emily, a whipsmart consultant who soon whips the place into shape, bringing in more tables and getting a famous food critic to visit and sample the food.
That last causes a final butting of heads that threatens to tear apart Harry and Mike’s tenuous business relationship, and if Rebeck’s solution to this quandary is dramatically ridiculous (if comically inevitable), her tart dialogue provides enough oil to power her predictable but slick machine.
Director Moritz von Steulpnagel inventively marshals his forces on Tim Mackabee’s minutely-detailed kitchen set, starting with W. Tre Davis’ amusingly ambitious Rodney and David Mason’s highly (and entertainingly) exasperated Mike. The always appealing Krysta Rodriguez makes Emily a funny and intelligent foil for Harry.
At the center of it all is Raúl Esparza, whose brilliantly controlled comic performance as Harry includes his dexterous creating of the dazzling dishes that are the chef’s métier. The second-act opener, when Harry painstakingly and wordlessly prepares a salmon dish only to reject it as not up to his standards with a nonchalant scoop into the garbage can is as perfectly executed an onstage moment as I’ve seen in quite awhile.
Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 West 52nd Street, New York, NY
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