There are times when waiting to get served in a restaurant can seem as futile as waiting for Godot. Dozens of worries can pass through your head. Are the other tables receiving more attention than you? Is it because of your race? Your age? Do you look as if you don't belong there? Have you done something to anger the waiters? Or are you even there at all? Kevin Doyle's surrealist comedy Not From Canada exists in this moment of social paranoia. Three friends sit around a table, examining their place settings as if they are strange, foreign objects. They study their reflections in the silverware, fiddle with the corners of their folded napkins, and then just sit there, jiggling their feet.
Finally, the man sitting in the middle, known as Cute Guy (Paul Newport), turns to the Cute Girl (Ishah Janssen-Faith) beside him and asks if he knows her. He must, she decides, since "all cute people know each other." Across from them sits Not-So-Cute Girl (Macha Ross). She self-consciously touches her frizzy blond hair, feeling for loose strands though it is pulled back in a bun and pinned down with several clips. She is not sure how she knows either of them, but acknowledges that figuring it out will make for good dinner conversation.
Ross later steals the show when she sheds her prissy persona long enough to deliver a hilariously ridiculous monologue about the extinction of pandas and her efforts to preserve their memory by purchasing entire shelves of clear liquid pump soap with little plastic pandas inside.
Ross, Newport, and Faith all deliver lively performances that do justice to the playful and funny writing. Doyle keeps each conversational thread fresh and interesting by having his characters explore the kinds of ideas and observations that are often blips on our minds' radar. Could your hand ever get stuck slipping money beneath a slot? Is it better to pump your gas or pay someone else to do it? Is a Taco Bell located inside a Target store still a Taco Bell or just another extension of Target? Cute Guy is particularly distressed because he cannot envision what his forefathers wore before the invention of wrinkle-free khakis.
The longer the diners wait to order their food, the hungrier they get, and the hungrier they get, the more they find their conversations starting to spin out of control. But the play spins with them, and it is an enjoyable, dizzying ride. It may not leave everything clear by the time it stops, but it will certainly give you a new perspective on ordering in a restaurant.
Note: This production is part of the 2007 New York International Fringe Festival.