by Nicole Greevy · August 12, 2014
And She Bakes, Live is a one-woman show created and performed by Daliya Karnofsky, based on her You Tube series And She Bakes. Karnofsky dispenses relationship advice, exorcises the demons of a failed relationship, takes three dance breaks and creates peanut butter chocolate rice crispy treats (she takes care before the show to direct those with peanut allergies to the back of the house, for their own safety). All in less than an hour.
The set, by Elizabeth Tolson, is a small oven range and rack of baking ingredients. though all baking is done on a hot plate (as Karnofsky says, useful for those living with 12 roommates). A small blender offers occasional commentary during her monologue. Karnofsky’s low-cut red dress with apron give off an air of manic 1950’s showgirl-turned-housewife, and indeed, one of the themes of the show is what is lost when a person gives up her own dreams to immerse herself in a romantic relationship. Karnofsky’s character is passionate about baking, and for her, all elements of a relationship can be broken down into ingredients, from the always-positive attitude in the first blush of infatuation, to the annoying habits we choose to tolerate (or not) once infatuation has been replaced by the daily grind of cohabiting.
As in her You Tube series, Karnofsky dispenses relationship advice to fans seeking help (the emails are projected behind her). The advice invariably turns away from the fans’ questions though, and to Karnofsky’s frustration at her own romantic problems. This could come across as self-indulgent, but the heightened, just-this-side-of-losing-it character, and Karnofsky’s terrific comedic timing make it hilariously funny instead. When things become too emotionally intense for her, she resorts to interpretive dance breaks, performed with equal parts neurotic rage and enthusiastic celebration. The show is a loopy pastiche of baking, dance and self-confession, and Annie G. Levy’s tight direction mixes all the ingredients together into a delightful confection. And the talented Karnofsky plays her larger-than-life character with ease, not losing what she’s created when she moves to more emotionally raw moments. It’s a tight balancing act, and she makes it look effortless.
If I have a quibble with the show at all, it’s that Karnofsky’s character seems to be dealing with two separate issues- an inability to maintain a relationship once the honey of first love gives way to the peanut butter of everyday choices, and also about making the choice to leave a genuinely dysfunctional relationship (I fear I will never look at chocolate the same way again). They’re both valid themes, and ones to which most of can relate. In the show though, I was left uncertain as to what Karnofsky’s character was seeking- love that lasts after infatuation, or the self-esteem that comes when one is unafraid to be alone. The divided themes made the ending, while laugh-out-loud funny, a little abrupt.
As I said, though, it’s a quibble. And She Bakes, Live is a funny, witty, and touching show and Karnofsky is never less than marvelous. Come savor it. Save room for dessert.