The Cake Explores Seeing the Whole of Someone, and Still Be Able to Love Them

Julia Gibson as Della in PlayMakers Repertory Company's production of The Cake.
Julia Gibson as Della in PlayMakers Repertory Company's production of The Cake. Photo by HuthPhoto
Jen is a young bride-to-be dreaming of a perfect wedding in her Southern home town. But her perfect plan is significantly disrupted when the cake maker she has selected — a close family friend — finds out that the groom is instead another bride named Macy. And Della the baker doesn't think this is something she wants to be any part of.

Playwright Bekah Brunsterrer (NBC's This Is Us) has constructed a 90-minute, one-act story being played out in towns across America in The Cake about to be performed at the Alley Theatre with Jackson Gay (Grounded, Other Desert Cities, Red, August Osage County) directing.

But veteran actor Julia Gibson who has acted on Broadway and across the country as well as being in film (Michael Clayton) and on television and who plays the part of Della, the best cake maker around, sees the main focus of this play a little differently than just picking sides in the question of same-sex marriage.

"It'a about love. I think the play is about love and how to learning how it’s possible to still love those people who you disagree with passionately," Gibson says. And it's not determining who's right and who's wrong or convincing one side or the other to change their minds so much as it is deciding if they can still have each other in their lives in the face of such a huge disagreement, she adds.

Another issue is that Della has always been told what to believe as part of her religious beliefs and culture so part of this play, Gibson says, "is her looking at what she believes so she can decide for herself what she believes."

But don't make the mistake of thinking this is a dry, earnest lecture, Gibson insists "It’s both very funny and accessible. It’s really a delightful play. There’s a lot to think about and it's very moving but it’s also very funny.

"There's no' this side is right' and 'this side is wrong' in this play. Everybody has a point and everybody needs to look at something more fully than how they've looked at it before.

"Jen and Della love each other," she says. "Nothing that happens with the issue of the cake and nothing that happens about one of them being lesbian and one of them not affects how deeply they love each other. And all the other characters, Della and her husband love each other and Jen and her fiance love each other and they all have to reckon with what it means to really love someone and be committed to them having really seen the whole of them."

Gibson, who also teaches acting for the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of North Carolina, first performed The Cake in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she is a company member of the PlayMakers Repertory Company.

"It is a beautiful play," she said. "And it's very funny."

Performances are scheduled for June 1 through July 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sunday, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information call 713-220-5700 or visit $35-$70.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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