By Emily Klingman
If a quote from Cobbler: A Recipe in 45 Scenes had to summarize the brother and sister relationship found within it, there is only one that fits: “You suck,” says Peach. “So do you,” says Cherry. “Yeah,” responds Peach. “Lollipops and penises.”
As a part of a three-night series, Rider students participated in the third annual Rider New Play Festival from Feb. 5-7. Friday night’s staged reading of Cobbler, by Ian August, solely centered on two characters — a sibling duo named Cherry and Peach (senior musical theater major Abby Anderson and freshman musical theater major Alex Coutts). Throughout the play, a narrator reads off the ingredients and instructions of a cobbler recipe.
The story of Cherry and Peach is told through a series of vignettes taking place over the course of a few months. The audience is taken on the journey of these two mostly growing into themselves, but in some cases growing apart. As this was a reading, there was no set on stage; however, there wasn’t a need for one. The lack of set design allowed audiences to get a personal and individual experience where they could visualize for themselves how the duo’s shenanigans went down.
From the beginning, the audience got a real sense of who Cherry and Peach are through a number game they play in the car. Watching them bounce off each other let the audience in on their relationship. It was fun to see their close, humorous banter, giving off the feeling of being included in their friendship. Even at the start, it was easy to see how codependent they were — and how that could turn into a problem later.
The storyline of Cobbler focuses on their individual lives, with Peach’s arrested development and seeming refusal to grow up, and Cherry’s desire to move away from being the caretaker for her brother and fully step into her own story. Peach, who suffers from epilepsy, is always partying and sleeping around with whomever he goes home with that night. Cherry, on the other hand, works in an office and is trying to grow as a professional. As the play goes on, Peach’s inability to take control of his life frustrates Cherry.
Cherry becomes torn between staying close to her brother and moving away to Orlando for a new job that’s higher up in the company she currently works for. It’s after she gives her brother the cold shoulder for a few days that Peach finally starts to take things seriously and shows Cherry he will be OK if and when she moves.
Anderson and Coutts both demonstrated the ability to quickly switch between silly banter in one scene and serious conversations the next. In one instance, it was even the other way around: Peach is in an emotional panic with Cherry on the phone after he has a seizure and Cherry is helping him through it. The immediate next scene is the two of them joking about and discussing the guys they have recently been with.
Some of the best moments were getting insights into just how much the two of them care about each other. In one scene, Cherry is scolding her brother for not taking his seizure medication and for his promiscuous lifestyle. She chides him on how she constantly has to check in and make sure everything is OK. “How else am I supposed to keep you safe?” The two convincingly resemble a real-life sibling and bestfriend relationship, making the entire show relatable.
The performance was never bogged down by the serious life moments, and the sibling relationship between Anderson and Coutts brought spirits right back up with quick and witty jabs at each other. At one point, Cherry is so humorously fed up with her brother’s behavior in a store that she says, “You’re why abortions should be legal.” The audience always knew the two loved each other, despite the jabs traded between them. “You’re gonna forgive me, right?” Peach asks at one point. Cherry smiles and responds, “Uh, do I have a choice?”
Originally published in the 2/10/16 edition