Lidia's Brunch Theatre needs a tastier show


At Lidia's Brunch Theatre, the pasta is more theatrical than the show.
  • At Lidia's Brunch Theatre, the pasta is more theatrical than the show.

A creative collaboration between Lidia's Kansas City and the Living Room theater troupe, Brunch Theatre, kicked off last Saturday and Sunday with a show that the director, Alex Espy, calls an "environmental experience." It's a comedy about a restaurant that's set in a restaurant featuring a waiter who isn't really a waiter. It's really a play that isn't really a play in any traditional sense, but a very raucous and very physical cartoon.

I liked the brunch a great deal, the show not so much. But I'm thinking that I'm not the right demographic for a folly like The Accidental Waiter. The Lidia's brunch on Saturdays and Sundays is designed for a relatively sophisticated and adult palate. The play, however, is for children.

And then again, maybe not. I attended the very first performance of The Accidental Waiter on Saturday -- it had a modest audience, maybe a dozen people -- and the only audience member who was truly laughing her head off was the mother of Jason Connor, the general manager of the local Lidia's restaurant. She was having a blast.

Perhaps I was just too tired to laugh; I ate far too much downstairs before the show at the generously laden antipasti and dessert tables. That's the deal at the Lidia's brunch. The $22 meal, served between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., includes a plate of house-baked breads and flavored butters -- apricot jam, strawberry jam and crunchy sugar -- and the opportunity to graze at an array of antipasti dishes: Caesar salad, beet salad, fresh fruit, cheeses and cured meats. The a la carte dishes include the pasta sampler, chicken scallopine with capers, roasted lemons and capers, a shrimp and scallion frico (there's also a bacon and soft-cooked-egg version), cabbage rolls, grilled octopus, grilled beef, ricotta and spinach canneloni, and several other dishes.

After eating their entrees, the patrons are encouraged to make a foray over to the dolce table for creamy panna cotta, tiramisu, biscotti and other sweets. By 2:30 p.m., the brunch-theater audience is herded upstairs to the loft dining room, which is set up like a private dining room, and to a talented cast -- Matt Weiss, Marty Honig, Alan Tilson and director Espy (playing a spoiled little boy in a sailor suit) -- in a very broad pantomime that puts silent comedy icons such as Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd to shame.

Before I attended the performance, director Espy told me that food is a big part of the physical comedy of The Accidental Waiter: "No food gets thrown," he says, "but it does get kind of messy."

Messy, yes, but not really enthralling. The Accidental Waiter needs something. Maybe a pinch of sex, a spoonful of violence, a dash of drugs and rock an -roll. It's not that The Accidental Waiter is boring, by any means, just a little half-baked. And for 50 bucks -- the price tag includes the brunch, the show, tax and gratuity -- the dough should be going a long way. 

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