Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Village Players Theater dishes up culinary perfection: An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf feeds a comedic appetite

French food. A touch of film noir. This must be the place: The Café du Grand Boeuf.

Imagine. In this restaurant, you may order any dish your heart desires – no matter how complex. The wine list is unmatched. The staff is completely devoted to your every whim.

Except, no food will be served this evening.

The year is 1961. Victor, the café’s owner and sole customer, is an American expatriate completely besotted with Ernest Hemingway, who recently died. Victor arrives at the restaurant, having just returned home from a trip to Madrid. He softly mutters excerpts from Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Instead of being treated to a delectable meal, he announces that he is determined to starve himself to death.

The staff, deeply troubled by Victor’s morose state, plot to rekindle his zest for life by tempting him with culinary delights. The plan? To present each course as an empty plate, accompanied by rich, gratuitous descriptions of what would have been served. In an attempt to distract him from his suicide plot, Victor is invited to dine on “adjectives and adverbs.” What ensues is being described as a “repast celebrating the joys of cooking, sex, bullfighting and the collected works of Ernest Hemingway,” by The Village Players Theater.

Barbara Barkan, a grande dame of the Toledo theater scene, lobbied to direct the show right from the start.

“I submitted the play to the committee and it was unanimously agreed that it should be submitted to the board [of the Village Players] who unanimously approved it for the season. Unheard of in the past!” she explained. “The play is beautifully written balancing humor with a gentle touch oh gravity.”

The cast had its work cut out for them. Grand Boeuf grapples with depression and suicide, but handles it with earnest humor.

“This is beautifully written but there were challenges to be able to stay light and not get too heavy.” Barkan stated. “We had many cast talks! Ultimately, but not surprisingly, this terrific cast worked through it and the result is delicious, a veritable feast (pun intended).”

An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf
will run through November 13.
$18/general, $16/seniors and students with valid ID.
8pm Friday-Saturday. 2pm, Sunday.
The Village Players | 2740 Upton Ave. | 419-472-6817

Related Articles