There are, I think, only a handful of restaurant plays which serve up memorable characters and genuinely funny dialogue. Add Maureen Cornell and John Shea’s hilarious slice of life comedy (running through April 4th) to the list. The LIFERS of the title are the veteran cooks, waiters and waitresses who toil under the radar for minimum wage and the promise of big tips.
First, let me testify, having waited tables throughout college, that every word in LIFERS is gospel. In point of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actors in the show had done hard time at a diner somewhere. Customs, culture and food may change, but not the folks in the trenches.
Cornell and Shea pepper the play with a rookie, a crusty cook, plenty of jaded staff, a snotty hostess and just the right amount of turmoil to keep them all busy. The only thing missing is a waiter who’s an out of work actor. What is truly remarkable about director Brett Marks’ production is the intricate timing: The interwoven exits and entrances, not to mention the cross currents of conversation are executed flawlessly. And it looks effortless.
The performers are first rate. Marks gets lovely, quirky performances: from Maureen Adduci as the well seasoned waitress with a sharp tongue, from Peter Brown as the feisty, unflappable cook, from Mikey DiLoreto as the stand up friend to Lisette Marie Morris’ overwhelmed single mother, from David D’Andrea as the poor greenhorn and from Audrey Lynn Sylvia as the universal irritant (who mellows a bit toward the end).
Marc Ewart’s set should be Zagat rated, it looks so authentic. Here’s my tip. Without reservation. See it before the kitchen closes.