Review: “Five Course Love” in Napa

There’s irony to be found in the fact that a guy with the surname “Coffin” wrote one of the liveliest theatrical productions I’ve attended in a while. Five Course Love by playwright/composer Greg Coffin is the show and it runs through March 1 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa.

The show consists of five comedic love-themed vignettes each set in a different restaurant and each involving three characters. Actors Sarah Lundstrom, F. James Raasch, and Brian Watson take on the fifteen roles with Lundstrom and Raasch usually playing a couple and Watson handling server/chef duties.

The show opens at Dean’s Old-Fashioned All-American Down-Home Bar-B-Que Texas Eats where a nervous nerd (complete with pocket protector) awaits the arrival of his social media-arranged date. Her name is Barbie, and she’s looking for her Ken. Neither is really who they claim to be in their on-line profiles.

A quick change of tablecloth and we’re at Trattoria Pericolo where a gangster’s moll is having a secret rendezvous with one of her boyfriend’s underlings. Things get dicey when the mob boss shows up.

F. James Raasch, Sarah Lundstrom, Brian Watson

After a body is carted off, things get bawdy at Der Schlupfwinkel Speiseplatz where a dominatrix discovers her server boyfriend has been seeing someone on the side, as has she. In no time at all the three will be doing “Der Bumsen-Kratzentatz”.

After a brief intermission, it’s off to Ernesto’s Cantina where a senorita has to choose between two men’s affections.

The show closes at the Star-Lite Diner, where a greaser can’t see the forest for the trees when he seeks the help of a girl to find his one, true love. Things then neatly wrap around to one of the earlier characters.

Told in a very compact 95 minutes (including an intermission), Five Course Love resembles a series of musical comedy sketches from the old Carol Burnett Show. Lundstrom even resembles Burnett in both appearance and talent and Raasch and Watson ably fill out the Harvey Korman and Tim Conway-type roles.  They also can sing, which is good because there are twenty-three original songs in the production.

Yes, it’s played over-the-top with ridiculous wigs, quick costume changes, outrageously exaggerated accents, and stereotypical characters that wouldn’t pass a cultural sensitivity test, but the Heather Buck-directed cast is just so damn charming you can’t help but smile and laugh at their antics.

Five Course Love will satiate your appetite for silliness.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★

’Five Course Love’ plays through March 1 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center, 1758 Industrial Way, Napa. Thursday, 7pm; Friday–Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. $30–$40. 707.266.6305.

Photos by Kurt Gonsalves

This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian.

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