Theatre Review: “I Don’t Have to Explain My Art to You”


Pies from the Porn Kitchen, written by Natalie Liccardello, directed by TJ Chasteen. Produced by the Fishtank Performance Studio (Kansas City). First produced 2011. (Seen April 2, 2011.)

Pies from the Porn Kitchen, written by UMKC playwriting student Natalie Liccardello, is part of the Fishtank’s mission statement to “nurture the development of new work and inspires theatrical entrepreneurship.” As a result, the piece is still a work-in-progress, and a lot of my review is about the script as well as the production itself.

The website describes the plot as, “Two cleaning ladies walk into an upscale Manhattan apartment and encounter an unlikely mix of baked goods, pornography, and a naked dude named Zeke. Shenanigans ensue ….” It’s a relatively short piece (with intermission, it was a smidge over an hour running time), which helps the fairly convoluted story along — had it been much longer, the suspension of belief that helps this piece be as enjoyable as it is would have been harder to maintain, especially as plot twists get thrown in.

The R-rated language seems to be thrown in just for shock value: F-bombs just for the sake of it. Maggie Hogan as Talia is okay, but there are times when it feels like she’s trying too hard. The language issue mentioned above is most noticeable with her, as the swearing seems forced and therefore unrealistic.

The nudity of the character of Zeke, played by J. Will Fritz, also seems to be a bit gratuitous, and that’s saying something coming from me. Fritz does a good job, considering that it feels like his character is really only there for the nudity. “Don’t people sign up for these classes just to see boobs?” Talia asks about the class Angela is going to be a model for — and that’s what it feels like for his character, to get the people who would come just for the nudity.

This is not to say it’s a bad story. In fact, it’s a humorous piece, which I know is hard to write, with a lot of good lines (“It’s not real porn — just pie porn” being one of my favorites) and the comedy helps the audience buy into the very odd series of events.

Special notice must go out to Emily Peterson as Angela whose acting is top-notch and makes you want to believe the crazy things she and the other actors are saying.

Like pie itself, Pies from the Porn Kitchen is a mixture of ingredients that make a sweetly odd concoction and works in small bites. It’s enjoyable as a fluffy bit of fun, and has a lot of potential. If you want to see (and encourage) new works, I would definitely check it out.

The Fishtank has extended the run of the production to one more weekend, and more information can be found at

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