Let Me Cook for You is an epic solo trilogy written and performed by Orietta Crispino and directed by Liza Cassidy. The show begins in the gallery space of Theatre Works with the title Let Me Cook for You. After a short intermission, the show picks back up with This Would Look Good on You in the theater space. Then, the experience culminates with a ten-minute finale back in the gallery entitled Let Us Dream. This uniquely innovative experience showcases Crispino’s theatrical intelligence as well as the creativity of Cassidy and the rest of the crew.
Upon entering the theater, patrons are asked to either provide a negative covid test or go upstairs to take a test. The staff was kind, considerate and very helpful in assisting with these necessary precautions for such an intimate show.
The show's first act takes place in a totally white room with a kitchen table in the middle. Crispino speaks directly to the audience, at times even asking questions and encouraging audience participation. She regales the crowd with stories from her family and upbringing told in a nonlinear fashion. While performing, she begins to prepare a meal and eventually starts sauteing it. The space quickly fills with the mouth-watering scent of garlic frying. Crispino even brings in drinks and offers them up to the audience. As some are making drinks, others are helping with plating and others still are handing out napkins. In an aura reminiscent of a family meal, everyone is invited to take a plate of Crispino’s vegetarian stir fry. As everyone sits and shares the food, Crispino continues to put on a show and, eventually, fluidly moves back into the world of the play. She exits in a hurry and just like that; it is intermission.
In the second act of the show, the audience is led into the theater, which is transformed into Crispino’s closet full of clothing. She begins to try on different garments and shares the stories associated with them. She gets up close and personal to show off some of the more impressive vintage designer pieces. She builds an outfit with some of her favorite pieces, layering purple item upon purple item. As she finds unconventional ways to use these garments, she tells the audience more of her life story.
The finale takes place in the gallery in darkness. Astroturf has been placed on the ground and the chairs rearranged, so the space feels different from when last used. A voiceover begins with the sounds of a city street playing in the background. Slowly, Crispino’s voice fades into the voiceover, telling the end of a story she began in the first act. As the story wraps up, the lights slowly come up to reveal a table with dessert waiting for the audience. It would have been more theatrically fulfilling for the lights to come up to reveal Crispino sitting there and definitely would have created a more conclusive button to the show. As it was, the ending felt unclear and audiences lingered in the space for a long time afterward. Even still, the dessert provided a sweet ending to an even sweeter night of theatre.
This play is unlike anything else. Crispino’s script does a brilliant job of making the audience feel comfortable and welcome to participate in the evening while also providing searingly vulnerable storytelling. The lighting design and sound design by Riva Fairhall and Asa Marder, respectively help to make this show refreshingly new while honoring Crispino’s heritage and history. Crispino’s performance was so engaging she made the time fly by. People of all ages and experiences can find something to appreciate about “Let Me Cook for You” and its welcoming authenticity. This is a play audiences are not soon to forget; it will leave your stomach and your heart full of love.
“Let Me Cook for You”
Performed by Orietta Crispino
Directed by Liza Cassidy
September 2nd – October 2nd, 2022
357 W 36 Street, 3rd floor
CARMEN BURBRIDGE is a Brooklyn-based actor and writer, originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. They have worked with New Dramatists, Portland Playhouse and The Farm Theater. It is her mission to create a convergence of hearts and minds in an effort to expose underrepresented stories and make the world a better place. They are passionate about trauma informed work, laughter, play and community.