"The Big Meal" is a play that shares much with the metaphor of its title, the narrative spans decades in the life of the family at its center, all of the action taking place in a restaurant, and therefore the lives that unfold before us can be seen as one "Big Meal." And like a big meal, while one can appreciate the breadth of delights spread out upon the table, one might also wish to take a breath or two between courses. The whirlwind pace of "The Big Meal" is quite possibly deliberate, to show how fast time can seem to pass, and in certain ways it is effective, (there are moments when characters appear to age in an instant.), and the skill with which so few actors play so many parts within less than 90 minutes is remarkable. But, I couldn't shake the feeling that as I worked to keep up with the action in terms of what, where, when, and who, I was missing something in the meantime. Yet, this is a minor quibble, in an otherwise fantastic production. I particularly enjoyed seeing Allen Nause preform again, having enjoyed him in "Death of a Salesman" years ago. Though he is retiring from his post as Artistic Director, I hope that we might get to see him grace the stage every now and then.
There are moments of happiness, dashes of humor, and at least two servings of terrible sadness. Bring your knife and fork, some napkins for dabbing tears, and dig in.