A strikingly disheveled David Flores, as Victor, a multi-millionare expatriate in Paris, walks into his own cafe and announces to his private staff that he is going to stop eating until he finally dies.
Given that the cafe is owned by Victor, is open 24 hours a day and serves only him, this strikes his staff as a painful and perplexing decision.
That’s the start of "An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf," the season opener for the Windfall Theatre, 130 E. Juneau Ave., at its intimate spot in the Village Church downtown.
After announcing his intention, Victor's staff decides to tempt him with an imaginary seven-course final meal.
Enter the empty plate, each one placed precisely in front of Victor and accompanied by a mouth-wateringly detailed description of each dish.
What follows is either a comedy (there are jokes), a personal drama (we ought to feel sorry for Victor), or a morality play (the world of excess and bullfighting that was Ernest Hemingway, who has just killed himself in Idaho).
The Windfall cast struggles mightily against a relatively thin and superficial script that requires a suspension of disbelief if you want to get into it.
A big part of the play is that, while his staff is running around furiously and we're called on to laugh at obvious jokes, we never get to know why Victor is so distraught until near the very end of the play.
It turns out that he thinks he has been jilted by the woman he loves, and Hemingway has blown his brains out.
I’m not going to give away the reveal at the end of the play, but let it be sufficient to say that nothing is much of a surprise.
Flores is, as usual, a deft actor who wears the sorrow and pretension of Victor on his jowled visage. His best moments are early when his slow-moving end of life plan is revealed.
His performance is a stark counterpoint to some severe overacting by Claude, his maitre d, played by Matt Wickey; Mimi the waitress and Claude’s wife, played by Lindsey Gagliano; and the ch…Read more...