Bigger than cheese balls

BY BEN EVANS | OCTOBER 12, 2009 7:20 AM

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Cheese balls (def): spherical cheese rounds rolled in pecan, walnuts, and macademia nuts.

Who knew an entire play could be centered on the joys and jealousy of making cheese balls? It’s only a feat the hilarious David and Amy Sedaris could undertake.

The Book of Liz opened in Iowa City Oct. 8 at the Theatre Building’s Thayer Theatre, and the show will run through Oct. 18. Admission is $17 for nonstudents, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth, and $5 for students.

The play begins with a Sister Donderstock (played by Katie Consamus), a sweaty nun who lives in a pre-Industrial, Amish-type village that follows a simple way of life. Her sole purpose is to make cheese balls.

But trouble strikes in her life when the uptight, goodie-two-shoes Brother Nathaniel Brightbee comes to the town from a neighboring village and sneakily maneuvers his way into replacing her in the cheese-ball-crafting department.

Feeling that the community is ungrateful for everything she has done, Sister Donderstock runs away in search of a new life outside the Bible-thumping village.

There begins the witty and comical adventure that leads the audience through a satirical look into the modern world.

The story includes ridiculous characters, ranging from a Ukrainian in a peanut suit who helps Sister Donderstock get a job to a restaurant full of flamboyant waiters who banter with the nun to the people of a self righteous, God-loving village who smother her with their religious views.

Despite the ludacris script, The Book of Liz still delivers a message anyone can relate to.

Throughout the play, Sister Donderstock is not confident and tries to find out who she really is and what she really wants. Most people in her home treat her as if she is nothing more than the cheese balls she creates.

As the play continues, she slowly realizes what she wants out of life and how she can get it.

The Book of Liz proves to be an in-depth look at what life is like in today’s society. Many people, like Sister Donderstock, must learn to break out from what they perceive as the norm and search for their identity outside of their comfort zone. The simple premise of the message forces people to look at themselves and wonder if they take advantage of the most precious people, or things, in their life, like cheese balls.

The actors in this play accurately depict that reality. They have taken their own experiences and put a fresh, new twist on their characters, making them easily relatable. From every entrance to every exit, the actors proved their drive by delivering each line as if it was their last.

Anthony Nelson, the director of the play, has taken this relatively small cast and made quite a satirical impact on the UI stage. His actors not only had an overly enjoyable performance but also crossed the line between acting and art by allowing their love for the stage to flow through their characters.

It was evident from the opening scene that The Book of Liz was not to be taken too lightly, but looked at with watchful and analytic eyes. It’s more than a simple ball of cheese.

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