Half Moon Theatre’s “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” is a one-woman play based on the memoir by Guilia Melucci and adapted by Jaques Lamarre. Throughout the course of the play, Guilia recounts her romantic history, from the boy next door of her youth to her most recent failed relationship as a woman getting ready to turn forty. She tells her story, while preparing a homemade pasta dinner from scratch and serving it to a few lucky audience members seated on the stage with her.
It’s a neat trick, and half the fun of seeing this play is watching the very capable Denise Summerford pull off acting the role of Guilia, while making and serving a three-course Italian dinner. Her mastery as an actress is matched only by her mastery of the hand-cranked pasta maker. But this “live cooking on stage” is not just a gimmick. The way people express love through cooking and eating is a central theme of the play, and Guilia remembers her past loves through the lense of food. She remembers mostly what she cooked for her romantic partners at turning points in her relationships.
The play takes place in New York City in the 1990’s, and refers to many places and things that only a New Yorker from that era (which I was) would know. Her first job is at Spy Magazine, and she dines at Bouley, and she mentions other restaurants and bars of that time that I had forgotten about completely until she said the names. That part was nostalgic for me, and perhaps that is also why it felt so authentic. I felt like I was back in 1995, hanging out at my Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment, listening to my college friend tell me about her latest adventures in dating.
Directed by Michale Schiralli, the production is brightly paced and humorous, while also nimbly hitting just the right emotional notes at the more heart breaking moments that Guilia experiences in her quest for love and family.
Half Moon Theatre’s “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” is playing at the Culinary Institute of America Marriott Pavillion weekends through October 25. For tickets and more information, visit halfmoontheatre.org or call 1-800-838-3006.
Denise Summerford stars in “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” directed by Michael Schiralli, running at Half Moon Theatre at The Culinary Institute of America until October 25 (weekends only). Photo by Jennifer Kiaba.