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In Its 10th Season, "Food for Thought" Is Still Fresh

"Food for Thought" Lunch-hour Theater
The National Arts Club
15 Gramercy Park South, between Irving Place and Park Ave.)
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday/Friday to Dec. 20, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Tickets $47; subscription packages are available
Call (212) 362-2560 or visit www.foodforthoughtproductions.com
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Sept. 20, 2004

When out-of-towners come to New York City, they invariably flock to the glitter of Broadway. Real New Yorkers head for the National Arts Club, where Susan Charlotte presents "Food for Thought," an innovative midday play-reading series (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday or Friday) that features respected actors reading the works of renowned playwright.

The readings, presented in the splendid Tilden mansion, are preceded by a buffet lunch.

This season, the series' 10th, will serve up one-acts by playwrights such as Arthur Miller, Shirley Jackson, Tennessee Williams, Jean Anouilh and George Bernard Shaw. Often these shorter works have been overlooked. Sometimes they have given birth to longer, better-known plays.

The series began on Sept. 20 with Arthur Miller's "A Memory of Two Mondays," a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age play about a young man who works in an auto-parts warehouse, surrounded by an assortment of crusty but sympathetic blue-collar workers.

The play has a large cast, but, under the direction of Joel Vig and with a mere hour and a half preparation, these quintessential professionals manage to deliver an interpretation that needed no set, no costumes, no sound or light cues and no blocking to move and challenge the audience.

Because A Memory of Two Mondays ran overtime, the usual Q&A session was much curtailed. But for the most part attendees can look forward to a lively discussion with some of the most literate people in New York City.

Over the years, Food for Thought has become so popular many people book a series as far back as January or February. In fact, the September 20 event was so packed Charlotte offered a complimentary ticket and a bottle of wine to all those who were not satisfied with their seats.

Charlotte also suggested some people might want to "convert" their tickets to different performance dates. And throwing non-partisanship to the winds, she added that if there were any Republicans in the audience, they were invited to convert as well. It was a line that received more than a smattering of applause. [Simmons]


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