Theatre Royal Concert Hall Nottingham – until Saturday 23rd July 2022
Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh
Sugar, Butter, Flour…perhaps I am diabetic, vegan and gluten intolerant but Waitress did not sit well with me.
The production is lovely. Colourful vibrant and lively. Pretty sets, beautiful people, a talented stage placed band and ensemble cast that come together to produce an aesthetically wonderful show. Peppered with upbeat songs and some humour that often hits the mark, the show appears to have all the ingredients that should make it a smash. But something is not quite right and leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth.
Waitress has music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessi Nelson. It tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a baker and waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband, Earl. After Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out of her troubles, she sees a pie baking contest and its grand prize as her chance. But it’s not free to enter and Earl will not support her growth. How will Jenna get out of the jam she is in?
The main issue with Waitress is that it is predictable and implausible. In a show that is supposed to champion the protagonist’s strong female independence, its surprising to find she is led and governed by men throughout her life. Even at the shows supposed epiphany filled climax, you are left with the conclusion that without a man’s intervention, Jenna would not find happiness.
The actions and motivations of some characters are bizarre and the sudden introduction of others during a hurried ending left me baffled. Am I the only one who thinks a married doctor embarking on an affair with his married, pregnant patient strange? Perhaps if there had been a song exploring his feelings and actions, more than a brief mention of his social awkwardness, anxiety and lust, this would have made for a more rounded explanation. Or perhaps it really was the power of pie? Whatever it was it still left me seeing circles.
Putting this aside, I feel Waitress is the Marmite of musicals. Some people in the theatre absolutely loved it and I felt some were left as perplexed as I was. Aimee Fisher was breathtaking as Jenna. Stepping into the breach last minute, her voice was majestic and the emotion she portrayed was spinetingling. David Hunter was enchanting as the rogue resident who romanced Jenna. Supported by a wonderful cast the performers did not put a foot wrong, they were simply let down by a strange and disjointed storyline.