Affection. Connection. Memories. Secrets. Verbal spats. Forgiveness. Love. The gamut of emotions spans wide in most kitchens. Whether it’s a casual meal or a formal dinner party, visitors inevitably gravitate toward the host who is diligently working near the stove top or oven, keeping glasses filled and charming guests- all while keeping them sated and satisfied.
All of these feelings are examined against the backdrop of food in Christin Eve Cato’s enjoyable new play Sancocho. Director Rebecca Martinez directs this two-hander that exposes the challenges of sisterhood. Former house cleaner Caridad (Zuleyma Guevera), is entertaining her sister Renata (Shirley Rumierk), who has stopped by for a pot of sancocho—and for some business matters. Daddy is dying and a legal papers must be reviewed. Where there’s a will, there is sure to be a way for drama.
Caridad holds some resentment for Renata who is significantly younger, lighter in complexion, and as a lawyer- an arguably greater success. Family secrets are exposed, resentments and amends are made, and everything wraps up nicely over the course of 90 minutes.
Food can be a mere vessel of nourishment or simply a reason to gather. It can also strengthen bonds and remind us of our cultural heritage. Here, Cato integrates all of these intentions. In the program note she writes of her Puerto Rican culinary background, “You can literally feel your ancestors work through you. The stew becomes a balm that soothes a long day or a broken heart. Every Boricua (“Puerto Rican”) has their recipe, with love being the main ingredient.”
Raul Abrego has designed a set that feels and looks like an apartment anyone would be lucky to inhabit. No detail is spared, including the well-stocked spice counter in Caridad’s kitchen.
Sancocho may not have the substance to merit the theatrical equivalent of a Michelin star. Nonetheless, it’s an appetizing way to spend a night at the theater.
Sancocho runs Off Broadway through April 9th at the WP Theater (2162 Broadway at 76th Street). For tickets and information, click here .