Four foodies and a sassy sommelier come together over several dishy meals in "What's Eating You?," a new play written by Jill Brooke with D.D. Rice. Premiering at in Mohegan Lake from May 3 to May 20.
The play explores how couples nourish long-term marriages without poisoning each other—especially when parenting a child with severe food allergies.
All aspects of food culture are baked into this "dramedy" that follows a chef, a food activist, a father who found religion after his son almost died from food allergies and a mother resenting the lifestyle changes facing her because of her kid’s challenges.
"One of the challenges in writing this play was how to make food allergies funny while still exposing the risks and sensitivities required to navigate this growing problem," author and playwright Jill Brooke, who lives in Bedford and is a former CNN correspondent, newspaper and magazine columnist.
Simultaneously, the play became an opportunity to examine what happens to a marriage when faced with challenges.
"It’s easy to break up but this play shows how couples can get back on track by adjusting the oven temperatures of their marriage and using different ingredients to nurture each other," Brooke said.
Brooke wrote the play about two years ago and in her writing she kept her kosher-observant husband in mind. Though she is not as religous, she is respectful of his diet and of the different tastes of her family, and tries to incorporate them into the meals she cooks.
"Religion in New York has always been mobbed in the entertainment world and in this play it's embraced and explored," she said.
The Westchester showcase is directed by Laurie Heffner Lewis, of Katonah, who most recently staged and directed a story of the founding of AA. Featured actors for "What’s Eating You?" are Tara Henderson, Erica Lubonta, Perryn Pomatto, Len Rella and Shaun Rice.
"The four main characters are foodies," Heffner Lewis said. "They use wit and wisdom to discuss current food issues while exploring how food memories and events impact their lives."
Brooke described the play as "hip, clever and sophisticated."
"I believe cooking keeps marriages together," she said and added the play acknowledges the importance of keeping rituals and having dinners together as a family.
The playwright said people should pay attention to the "little things" and accept that people have different palates and tastes. What makes people unique, she said, is their individuality.
"The true measure of love is identifying what pleases someone else even if it's different from you," Brooke said.
She said she hopes the play will raise awareness about allergies, autism and asthma, as well as the connections and the politics of food.
Food and wine lovers will enjoy references to among others, Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Nelson Mandela, Ina Garten, David Bouley, Dan Barber, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alfred Portale and Alain Ducaisse while well-known wines and champagnes such as La Grande Dame, Chateau Margaux, Conterno Barolo and even Screaming Eagles flow into the dialogue. After all, no chamPAIN, no gain.
"What's Eating You?" premiers at the Winery at St. George on May 3. It will be on stage through May 20 three times a week – Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The Winery is located at 1715 E. Main Street in Mohegan Lake. Click here for tickets.