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Some light fare at 'The Human Buffet'

From left director Janet Shea, (rear) Paulette Crain, Margeaux Fanning and Andee Reed.
From left director Janet Shea, (rear) Paulette Crain, Margeaux Fanning and Andee Reed.
©John Barrois

"The Human Buffet"


The concept of Internet dating as a subject for movies and books is not new, but "The Human Buffet" written by Bunny Wingate-Tavaras and David Tavaras takes that theme and runs with it in territory hardly ever explored before. The idea of dating seniors, or at least those well beyond child-rearing age, was perhaps last considered in the movie "Grumpy Old Men." It's something that is done quite a lot, but the thought of sexual attraction in bodies of a certain age seems more than most writers wish to share.

That's not the case with the Tavarases, who claim their nuptials are the result of just such a computer dating match. So, with a happy ending in view, they wrote "The Human Buffet" and shopped it at Mid City Theatre to see if the final product would pass muster. Both owner Fred Nuccio and box office manager and lighting director Su Gonzcy were very supportive, but they knew the project would require the firm hand of an excellent director to distill the raw material into a sumptuous feast worthy of its title.

Janet Shea was the director chosen and between her stewardship and the very good cast she assembled, "The Human Buffet" premiered two weeks ago at the theater to crowds that have laughed and carried on with the misfits seen on the stage.

Margeaux Fanning as Tally is the main figure, a divorcée, who is trying to get back into the dating world after more than a decade. She is pushed into the Internet dating scene by her friend Ami, played by Paulette Crain, who also serves as the show's producer. Fanning is warm, vulnerable and funny with her many lines in which she has to put up with some of the worst dates in history; most of the roles played by Mikko. Fanning proves to be the glue that holds the plot together and the audience feels her pain with every painful experience she has. She is a consummate actor and a skilled comedienne.

Andee Reed is an absolute delight as Bertie, replete with an Irish brogue, who also is dating several older men, but who is keeping a closely-held secret. Although she is only in a few scenes for a few moments at a time, Reed manages to steal the show every time she appears.

The germ of a really good play exists in "The Human Buffet," but it deserves to be expanded and workshopped. If audiences are returning in droves for it in its present condition, it's hard to imagine how long the lines would be if more quality scenes were added to the existing one hour's worth of material.

"The Human Buffet" ends its run at Mid City Theater, 3450 Toulouse Street, this weekend with shows tonight and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 3:00 p.m. For more information, call 504-488-1460 or click here for tickets.