Monday, December 9, 2019

Present Laughter and Pride and Prejudice: Present-Day Laughter

Andrew Scott and Indira Varma in Present Laughter. (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

The relentless updating of classic material continues apace with the Old Vic revival of Noël Coward’s 1942 Present Laughter (recently broadcast in the NTLive series) and Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, currently being performed at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre. Present Laughter stars Andrew Scott as Garry Essendine, the narcissistic stage star Coward wrote as self-parody and starred in himself in the West End. The director, Matthew Warchus, has queered the material by making Garry explicitly bisexual and gender-switching the roles of his backer, Hugo, and his wife Joanna, still an outsider to Garry’s inner circle, who almost ruins everything by first carrying on an affair with Garry’s producer, Morris, and then seducing Garry himself. In this version, Hugo has become Helen (Suzie Toase) and Joanna is now Joe (Enzo Cilenti), so his dalliances with both Morris (Abdul Salis) and Garry are same-sex. Plus, as Garry reveals in the last act, Helen is sleeping with another woman.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Secret Life of a Recipe Tester

Liz Baer in the kitchen.

Liz Baer earns her paycheck teaching Latin, but she’s been moonlighting for a little more than a year testing recipes for the forthcoming Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook by Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner. Perhaps it hasn’t crossed your mind that cookbooks need recipe testers, but they do, in the same way that all books need copy editors – or perhaps more urgently, because readers aren’t generally required to eat typos. (For an exception to that rule, keep reading to the end.) For The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook, Baer didn’t test every single recipe herself, but each one was tested more than once. Two authors and two independent testers meant a total of four people who checked and double-checked (and sometimes triple-checked and quadruple-checked) every single recipe.