Fear of Oatmeal

Henny (Donna Couteau) and Nelly (Gloria Miguel) gossip at the kitchen table as apparitions Soni Moreno, Joe Cross and Sheldon Raymore look on. Original photo by Walesca Ambroise.

By Andrew Andrews

Nelly’s (Gloria Miguel) dementia is getting worse. She sits at her kitchen table all day, visited now and then by her old friend Henny (Donna Couteau) who delivers the latest gossip. When Henny’s not there, Nelly has other visitors: hallucinations of Bear (Joe Cross), Nita Matariki (Soni Moreno) and Thunder (Sheldon Raymore). Bear makes farting noises and tells stories. Nita Matariki recalls Nelly’s past as her own. Thunder dances around the apartment and makes a mess for Henny to sweep up during her next visit. Day in, day out, Nelly’s dementia is getting worse.

Fear of Oatmeal is set in post-Depression era South Brooklyn, but it could be anywhere, anytime, really. And Nelly could be anyone, were it not for the decidedly Native American personas of her apparitions, those who keep her cultural upbringing alive. Fear of Oatmeal  is, then, a touching story of what it’s like to grow old, virtually alone, connected more with your past than your present, spiraling toward a future more disruptive than the gentrification of the neighborhood around you. Written and directed by Muriel Miguel, American Indian Artists and Spiderwoman Theater’s production provides as much a glimpse into the culture of Native Americans as it does the concurrent experiences of cognitive disorder and aging, with the smell of sage, traditional costumes (Gabrielle Amelia Marino), set (Dedalus Wainwright) and shield design (Clara Wainwright) creating a mood that’s quite distinct from most other productions around Manhattan. So check it out, then come back here and let us know what kind of impression it left upon you—because your reviews can help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you discover future events you’ll be glad you didn’t miss!

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Andrew Andrews attended Fear of Oatmeal at Theater for the New City in New York on Sunday, June 10, 2018 @ 2:00pm to write this review.