Faith Prince in "The Cake" at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo by Jim Carmody
As “issue plays” go, Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake is, well, sweet. Its bipolar dialectic (northeastern liberal vs. southern conservative) comes with layers of relevant tenderness and dollops of hearty laughs, both of which might defuse a lesser message show, but Brunstetter’s script is stridently uncompromising. That’s good news for the La Jolla Playhouse production directed by Casey Stangl which closes the theater’s 2017-’18 season.
The purveyor of cakes is a North Carolina baker with a blonde wig, a Bible Belt belief system and a lot of unexpressed regret in her heart. Faith Prince is outstanding as Della, whose conscience and long-embraced values are rocked to the core when her late best friend’s daughter Jen (Aubrey Dollar) asks her to make a wedding cake for her and her fiancée Macy (Miriam A. Hyman) – another woman. Though overly sentimental at times, The Cake doesn’t cop out in deference to a neat and tidy resolution, and it skirts the edges of but never lapses into regional or political stereotyping. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 2/14/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.