Cooking onstage at the Wilma Theater

By Howard Shapiro

I went into the Wilma Theater the other day to cook. That’s right, cook. On stage. Actually Mary Martello, who plays one of the leads in Annie Baker’s comic drama Body Awareness, did the cooking — at a full kitchen that’s been built as part of Mimi Lien’s set for show.

Martello cooks in character as she delivers dialogue, and needs to be at a specific time in the action, needs to have finished making her soup so that the cast can then eat it. So there’s no messing up at the stove allowed.

I asked Martello about the mechanics and acting involved, and mostly about the recipe she uses, in the play that involves a lesbian couple, their son who may or may not have Asperger's syndrome, and a photographer who is boarding with them, during “Body Awareness Week.” He takes unconventional pictures of women in the nude; the two women react differently to his work.

But in the accompanying video we made at the Wilma, I ignored even asking about that aspect of the script  and went straight for the cooking — after all, nudity’s now a part of scripts all the time, but cooking? Hey, I know a story when I see one.

Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727,, or #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at Hear his reviews at the Classical Network,