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Sonoma County Gazette
The Kitchen Witches

Film Review - The Kitchen Witches by Caroline Smith

 Reviewed by Malena Eljumaily - October 2019

Sep 28, 2019


Reviewed by Malena Eljumaily

Face it, we all need a distraction right now. Forget politics and the insanely hot summer we’ve been having and head on over to the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center for a really good laugh. Their current production, The Kitchen Witches by Caroline Smith, is fast and funny and just what the doctor ordered.

Jude Gibson as DOLLY BIDDLE, Robert Caligari as STEPHEN BIDDLE, Dee Dee Robbins as ISOBEL LOMAX.

Walk into the theater and you are suddenly transformed into a member of the studio audience for a cable access cooking show starring a feisty babushka of a chef played by Jude Gibson. I have seen Ms. Gibson in other CPAC productions and always appreciated her work. But here it’s a though she’s been completely let off the leash and the results are gloriously over-the-top and too much fun. We soon learn the truth about Dolly’s Russian ancestry, but I won’t give it away here.
Robert Caligari as STEPHEN BIDDLE, Dee Dee Robbins as ISOBEL LOMAX
Her put-upon son, Stephen, (Robert Cligari) is ostensibly in charge of the production but spends most of his time just reigning her in. This is her final show and Dolly is going out with a bang. That’s especially true once her arch-rival, another cooking show hostess, Isobel Lomax, (Dee Dee Robbins)shows up to make trouble and does just that live for all to see.

Dolly and Isobel have a long history and know just how to push each other’s buttons. The flurry of insults between these two is the best part of the show. Or certainly, the funniest. Soon, the station manager decides that a program with both these women might be worth producing. And so, their show, The Kitchen Witches, is created.
Robert Caligari as STEPHEN BIDDLE, Jude Gibson as DOLLY BIDDLE, Dee Dee Robbins as ISOBEL LOMAX.
As the taunts and slights continue, we begin to learn more about these two women and why they hate each other so much. The action is captured in close-up by roving cameraman, Rob(Jonathan Graham). He is a silent presence in all this mayhem and unexpectedly entertaining in his unassuming way.

Director Amy Lovato has created a madcap, high-energy production. I wonder if she had to reign the actors in or push them to be so animated? Either way, the result is right on target. Credit must be given to Zyssa Morales whose costume design perfectly reflects the personalities of the characters. Even small details are telling, like the novelty t-shirts Rob wears.
Jude Gibson as DOLLY BIDDLE, Dee Dee Robbins as ISOBEL LOMAX
The set, designed by Yave Guzman (also CPAC’s Artistic Director) perfectly places us on the set of a cooking show with a limited budget. There are authentic-looking On Air and Applause signs and the lighting just feels right for a television set. Not sure how Mr. Guzman managed that. Maybe by making the set just a little too bright.

Anyway, the show in a show aspect of The Kitchen Witches makes this play more interactive than most others. The audience is technically part of the show. There is a fourth wall, but is it breached when Stephen talks to us? Doesn’t matter. You’ll enjoy yourself as the studio audience and as the theater audience. Bon appetit!

Suggested audience high school and older--mild adult themes.
Students $12    Adults $25     Buy Tickets Online
Pay-what-you-can preview on September 27 at 7:30 pm

Produced by Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
Directed by Amy Lovato

Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
209 N. Cloverdale Blvd. Cloverdale

Saturdays and Sundays - September 29 & October 5, 6, 12, 13
Saturdays at 7:30  -  Sundays at 2:00
Please arrive early
Generously Sponsored by Joan Meisel & Lee Hunt and by Dobie Edmunds & Thom King


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