A happily engaged pair walks into a bakery to order a wedding cake, however, the baker refuses to serve the same-sex couple.
This has been the unfolding drama in the Colorado cake case that the Supreme Court narrowly ruled on last week. It’s also the basis of the on-stage drama of the Alley Theatre’s production of “The Cake.” It’s an incredibly timely play. The show opened just three days before the SCOTUS decision, and it’s playing throughout June during LGBT Pride Month.
“The Cake” focuses on fractured relationships and internal turmoil instead of any legal issues. Jen (Elizabeth Stahlmann) wants her late mother’s best friend Della (Julia Gibson) to bake her wedding cake. Overjoyed, Della agrees. However, she backs out when she learns that Jen’s fiancé is a woman. Della is like family to Jen, and the rejection is heartbreaking. It’s a heartbreak all too familiar to members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
The show puts Della’s inner dialogue on display. She struggles between following the rules she has abided to her entire life, and loving and accepting someone who is like a daughter to her. Gibson makes Della into an understandable character who is still trying to figure herself out.
Fairly representing both sides of this the debate is tough, but playwright Bekah Burnstetter walks the line. She is from North Carolina, where the story takes place. With this production, she intentionally put conservative people in the forefront.
In the play, we also witness Jen’s turmoil in reconciling her conservative upbringing with her identity. Stahlmann’s acting makes Jen heart-wrenchingly alive.
Jen’s fiancé Macy (Candice D’Meza) is the unapologetic opposite to every aspect of conservatism that surrounds her. D’Meza’s portrayal of this black, queer woman had me rooting for her at every turn. She unabashedly delivers some of the funniest lines of the play.
Overall, “The Cake” is an amazingly well-done and timely production.
With a valid student ID, tickets to “The Cake” are are $16 for non-prime performances and $26 for prime performances (Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday matinees). If purchasing online, use the promo code STUDENT.