Lyric Stage Company debuts ‘The Cake’
Frosted with moral conflict
Through Feb. 9, the Lyric Stage Company debuts a show as sweet as its name. “The Cake,” written by Bekah Brunstetter, follows a traditional Southern baker named Della who is thrown into moral conflict when her deceased best friend’s daughter Jen asks for a wedding cake for her same-sex marriage.
The 90-minute production is both hilarious and heart-wrenching and is performed to perfection by the four-person cast, including Della (Karen MacDonald), Jen (Chelsea Diehl), Jen’s fiancée Macy (Kris Sidberry) and Della’s husband Tim (Fred Sullivan Jr.).
The plot harkens back to the 2018 Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, wherein the owner of a similar cake shop in Lakewood, Colorado refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake on religious grounds. The court sided with the cake shop. But in “The Cake,” the dynamic is further complicated by Della’s love for Jen.
In the play, Macy is a writer from New York City who has built up sky-high intellectual walls due to the outsider treatment she’s always received. She’s the urban, Northeast liberal who is armed with a thousand New Yorker articles and a belief that everyone else is wrong. Though her viewpoints are at times stubborn, it’s easy to see how she arrived there. It’s also easy to see where these viewpoints are echoed in Boston. Her strategy contrasts with that of Della, who is painfully conflicted throughout the production. Della’s whole belief system is based on the Bible, but her desire to love and support Jen causes her to question her moral code.
For Sidberry, the production hits close to home. “I am very similar to Macy in a lot of ways. I, too, struggled with my weight when I was younger. I was the only black female in my school the majority of the time,” she says. “I’m from the South, so I understand the characters very well. It’s great to see a show that makes people think.”
That is the real beauty of “The Cake.” There is no black and white, right and wrong. All the characters are striving to do what they think is best, based on — or at times in spite of — what they have been taught. There is no neat, perfect resolution in the show or in the contemporary conflicts it mirrors. But “The Cake” shows that people aren’t innately wrong or of poor character because of their belief systems, a lesson that bears eternal repetition in today’s world.
“Disagreement is what makes people grow,” says Sidberry. “I hope the audience comes away knowing that people can disagree and still be good to each other.”