Apples in Winter

Jennifer Delora stars as Miriam in Denizen Theatre’s production of Jennifer Fawcett’s Apples in Winter. The run marks the Denizen’s return to indoor performances in New Paltz since the pandemic. Original photo by Sarah Cronk.
Is this a play, or a cooking show? Maybe you decide!?

By Andrew Andrews

Miriam’s son Robert is about to be executed by the state, and for his last meal, he’s requested a slice of apple pie—just like Mom used to make.

So, Miriam is making it for him. From scratch. In the kitchen. Of the prison.

As she mixes and rolls the dough for the crust… as she cuts and seasons the apples for the filling… as she waits for the dough to chill and the pie to bake, Miriam tells us about Robert.

About Robert growing up.

About Robert quitting and losing jobs.

About Robert asking for money. Again, and again.

About Robert stealing from Miriam.

And, gradually, about exactly what Robert did to wind up on death row.

Jennifer Delora, the actor, pretends to be Miriam, the character.

Jennifer is making the pie.

Not pretending to make the pie. Making the pie. From scratch. On stage. In the theatre.

After a long wait, New Paltz’s Denizen has finally reopened their doors for their first run since before lockdown.

Attending Apples in Winter feels a lot like watching an instructional cooking show on television, where the host shares cute little anecdotes with you through the camera as they work.

Except, in this case, the anecdotes aren’t so cute. If they were, the host’s son wouldn’t be waiting for a pardon from the governor!

On a simple but convincing set of “prison green” paint on cement block walls, with props you’d likely find in any institutional kitchen (except for the thick cable securing the dull knife to the stainless steel work table!), the lone actor holds our attention not only with her story, but by actually making a pie while she tells it.

Jennifer Delora’s delivery was strong (although a bit rushed at the beginning, probably due to opening night nerves), and the Denizen deserves praise and support for bringing works to the Hudson Valley that dig deeper than crowd-pleasing musicals and run-of-the-mill rom-coms.

I attended with four members of my Meetup group, and one woman said that, as a mother, she found it particularly disturbing. Another person commented that it was very well done.

I, too, enjoyed the performance, but I couldn’t help wonder to whom Miriam was speaking (she was apparently alone in the kitchen), and wish that the script wasn’t as cut-and-dried as the crust on the pie.

Although the $28 price tag is far from exorbitant (especially in times like these), it definitely seems a bit high for a piece of this duration (less than an hour), size and caliber.

It’s tough to pull off a fantastic one-person show. If I recall correctly, HOPE was the last one I found worthy of five stars, and that was more than three years ago! While Apples in Winter doesn’t come close, the trip to the Denizen for this production nonetheless makes for a nice date night or outing with friends.

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Andrew Andrews attended Apples in Winter at Denizen Theatre in New Paltz on Friday, October 22, 2021 @ 7:00pm to write this review.

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