Not the Best Recipe

PB&J is a big tease. The concept is great. Two sisters in the remote Vermont mountains sell homemade peanut butter to eager consumers. However, their culinary creation has a sinister secret ingredient: pureed penis. The execution is not so great. The play makes every joke you expect it to, setting up a great premise and failing to do much with it. At an hour and forty minutes, the show needs more than just one good idea to sustain its running time. It doesn’t have them, although there's plenty half-baked notions and missed opportunities. Sisters Lillie and Millie are about to bolt their rural cottage for Canada when Dick Longfellow, a local radio announcer, shows up requesting an interview. Lillie is charmed by the presence of a celebrity, but Millie sees Dick’s extreme endowment at their last hurdle toward freedom. Will Dick escape with his dick intact?

The cast elevates the material, making the groaners fewer and farther between. David Gable as the unfortunate Dick Longfellow has the big creamy voice necessary for a radio announcer plus great comic timing. Lisa Riegel as Lillie and Amy L. Smith as Millie have a believable rapport as sisters, which is impressive because their relationship as written doesn’t make much sense. Mary Goggin and Juliet O’Brien round out the cast. Goggin plays Dick’s wisecracking producer while O’Brien seems like she’s having a grand time as the illegal immigrant sexpot who helps in the kitchen.

PB&J is most effective in its many monologues that break the fourth wall. Playwright Tara Dairman has a flair for direct storytelling. Just an actor, a simple spot and the audience. When the lights go back up and characters start interacting with each other, the fun drags. In group scenes, the same thing tends to happen over and over.

The momentum is further killed by the many set changes executed by an incredibly slow two-person crew. To be fair, there are many blocks to be moved onstage from one position to another, but there’s no excuse for sluggish switches. The dead space during the second half was so bad that laughter actually erupted through the audience when the crew came out to switch the set for the final time.

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