By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
With Josephine's Bakery, showing at the Prometeo Theatre's new home on the downtown Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, things get off to a raucous, deliriously fun start, then slow down and never quite get back up to speed. The play, informed by Jean Anouilh's The Orchestra, is billed as a black comedy, a topical, bitingly satiric form that deals with serious issues in a dark, unconventional way. But one must wonder if writer/actors Javier Siut and Frank Quintana realize that what they've actually written is a farce (a collection of characters whose outlandish personalities are used for laughs) with serious elements.
The play opens with a bang as Roly and Remy, the overtly gay businessmen behind the French bakery, welcome us with incredible energy and pizzazz. A similar Zeitgeist is maintained as we're introduced to the band, including the sexually aggressive French bandleader; a piano player who is the center of the ladies' amorous affections; a young, cute ingenue; a woman who takes herself too seriously; a Marilyn-inspired ditzy blonde; and a loquacious Southerner.
Each character is eccentric, extreme, and dutifully fulfills a niche in the script. Each is also funny in his or her own inspired way. It's only when serious conversations and jealousy come into play that things go awry, and the attempt at black comedy falls flat. Worse, there is no character development to warrant interest in their personal lives. Siut and Quintana would have been better served by forgetting about the principles of black comedy and accepting where their writing has taken them -- into a pure farce, and a good one.