MEATLESS MEAT: THE SAGA CONTINUES

There has been a lot of talk lately over the trend on meat products that look like meat, cook like meat, and even tastes like meat, but isn’t meat at all! It’s a food substance made out of plant material. It’s a new way to not only not rely upon animal product, but to provide alternative ways to create available foodstuffs of healthier choices to all consumers that practice meatless or vegan based diets.

There are currently two brands that offer plant based meat products: Impossible Meat, and Beyond Meat. (Other brands will be added over time!) And those new products are currently developing. At the recent CES convention (once known as the Consumer Electronics Show) held in Las Vegas last month, plant based pork products were introduced. (The CES is more in high tech development rather than just the showings of the latest in TV sets and streaming audio devices!) Before long, there will be plant based hot dogs, pork chops, fried chicken, and other staples that are part of the domestic diet.

What is the reaction to all of this like of “fake meat”? From what is understood, it’s coming in rather well! Last summer, a KFC restaurant in Atlanta offered chicken pieces that weren’t real chicken, but product that resemble chicken pieces. Folks were flocking (pun?) to this location in droves, at times lining up around the block. Burger King is test marketing an Impossible Whopper with positive results.

Rumors are going around that McDonalds may be dabbling with offering a Big Mac version featuring plant based meat. Wendy’s may be doing the same. However, those notes haven’t been confirmed from the sources as of this writing. So don’t park yourself to a Mickey D’s to get a macless Big Mac just quite yet!

Even Hollywood is jumping on the plant based meat bandwagon. At the Golden Globe Awards, such product was being offered to those attending the show at the ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel. A week later at the Critics Choice Awards, Impossible Meat burgers were being served. Baja Fresh were also offering tacos made with meat created with this plant based product. And both award show didn’t hide the fact that their attendees were being served plant based products as some of the award winners when accepting their trophies even acknowledged this fact to the TV audience.

One question does remain. How does this stuff taste like? I was attending the Critics Choice Awards program last month, and I had the opportunity to try out both the tacos from Baja Fresh, as well as the burgers (and sliders too) made from Impossible Meat. Each slider even had a little paper flag with “Impossible” written on the flag so one would know that this appetizer was made from this product! The burgers looked like standard burgers complete with a tomato slice and lettuce leaf. If one wanted of put some ketchup on the burger, there were squeeze bottles of the stuff available. (All organic of course!)

So what was my reaction? The burgers, tacos, and sliders weren’t bad at all! The meat itself was rather firm. There was no greasy residue oozing from the meat patties, and they didn’t break up to smaller pieces when bitten into. The taste really didn’t have the flavor of meat, but it came pretty close! The tacos itself were served on soft shells, so they didn’t have that special “crunch” to them as one would expect. And the toppings were a bit on the minimal side. However, the meat product inside was about the same consistency as the burger product. What I found rather interesting was the amount of ketchup bottles offered. There were enough of this supply where if one wanted to, one can drown the burgers with the ketchup in order to hide the taste. However, I never saw anyone do this since the folks present wasn’t there to chow down, they were there to see a bunch of moving picture and TV stars win an award or two. Besides, everyone there was more interested in bellying up to the bar drinking booze laden drinks than wolfing down on burgers made with meat that at one time was impossible to create!

Oh yes! For those that wanted to eat burgers and tacos made with the real stuff, they were available for those souls that didn’t want to bother with the plant basted products!

Time will call the fate of these new products that are bring offered as a new choice in cuisine. Whatever may be the case, the creation of meatless meat is gaining the interest to those that desire to give it a whirl. The product may even be available in your neighborhood. (It is available where this writer hangs his hat!) But don’t just rely upon my take to all of this. Just try it out for yourself and you decide! Besides, I’m not a food critic anyway! Then again, I was the one that used to place chocolate sauce on pizza way before it became trendy, or would make hot cereal for breakfast using cold cereal! (A bowl of Cap’n Crunch heated in an oven for ten minutes at 300 degrees made ‘em rather tasty!) Then again, I really wasn’t a picky eater to begin with!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Continuing its run at the Antaeus Theatre Company of Glendale is MEASURE FOR MEASURE, William Shakespeare’s dark tale of the corruption of authority in Verona, and where sexual desires comes with strict justice.

Paul Culos is the Duke of Vienna. He attempts to grant Angelo (Ramon de Ocampo) temporary rule of the city. Meanwhile, Claudio (Ramon de Ocampo) is apprehended by local law enforcement for the crime of “having relations” with his fiancee Juliet before marriage, and his sentence is death! Claudio is convinced that the Duke could appeal his case. But the Duke disappears to hide at a local monastery. He disguises himself as a visiting frier to see how Angelo is running things. When Claudio’s sister Isabella (Carolyn Ratteray), who herself is preparing to become a nun of the church, begs Angelo to show mercy for her brother. Angelo will release her sibling in exchange for personal relations i.e. sex!

This production as presented by the Antaeus Theatre Company shows the true spirit of the work as composed by The Bard when it was first presented on a stage setting within the early years of the seventeenth century. This Antaeus presentation takes place in a Vienna of today with hints of the early 1600’s added for visual atmosphere. Of course, there is the original prose spoken that made the writings of W.S. known to the English language world. Yet this depiction, along with the simplistic sets as designed by Frederica Nascimento holds a contemporary feel. Its only real stage set is seen within the first act that resembles a judge’s chambers, complete with law books on a back bookshelf, a scale of justice alongside the stogy books, and a front desk loaded with piles of legal files with a desktop gavel that’s within reach. The rest of the play’s scenes shows no formal sets, only a time and space that is of a virtual reality. Allison Dillard’s costume design is also akin to the modern fashion tastes of the 21st century with smart touches of the 17th century period added. Those acclaimed elements gives the notions where although the play’s source is from its original “olden days”, the feel is within the present climate. Especially with the idea that one man’s freedom can be obtained for a sexual favor that’s is nowadays known as a “MeToo” moment with a hashtag symbol plopped on its worded front end.

Many members of the stage ensemble are doubled cast where they don their respected costumes and speak with different personas. A few are gender fluid, meaning that a man may appear as a woman and vice versa. This gender swap is in tribute to what was done back in Willie’s day as all female characters were performed by men!

The troupe of players consist of Julia Fletcher as Escalus, Lloyd Roberson II as Provost, Desiree Mee Jung, alternating with Nicole Erb, as Mariana and others, Paul Eiding appearing in multiple roles, Bo Foxworth is Lucio and Juliet, Aaron Lyons is Pompey, and Rhonda Aldrich appears as a collection of dramatis personae.

Armin Shimerman & Elizabeth Swain share director duties making this program pit itself itself out from one scene into the next, offering everything one can expect to discover inside of a Shakespearian program as this one from its dramatic effects to its comical interludes. One thing about this play is it features a high conclusion that is left open ended. It showcases that a theater piece some 400 years old can be just as thrilling and captive in this high tech day and age as it was way back then. Granted, modern morals changed quite a bit. Consensual sexual relations won’t get somebody into the pokey, let alone be put to death. As for the non-consensual stuff? Refer to the term with the hashtag in front!

MEASURE FOR MEASURE, presented by the Antaeus Theatre Company, and performs at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway (at Brand Blvd.), Glendale, until April 6th. Showtimes are Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. No performance on March 2nd.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 506-1983, or via online at http://www.Antaeus.org
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Write Act Repertory presents the world premier of SHOW ME A HERO, Willard Manus’ drama about the meeting of a Greek political freedom fighter and the journalist that has a story to tell about this fighter’s goals and consequences.

The setting is Athens, Greece c.1974. The nation was undergoing a dictatorship that began a few years before known as the Regime of the Colonels or simply, The Junta. Illia Volok is Petros. He’s been part of the league that was set off to fight the dictatorship, leading to an arrest for the “crimes” he’s committed. He was eventually jailed and tortured. When the dictatorship fell, he was released from his captivity. Now living in a small flat, he’s attempting to get his life back together while still fighting for the cause. His political work is set towards the attention of Luisa (Lisa Robins), a journalist from the Italian region whose beat covers political uprisings, wars against democracy, assassinations of heads of state, and other notions reflecting world politics. She arrives from Rome to his cramped yet comfortable apartment in the heart of Athens to gain a story about his undertakings. Petros does emote his background to Luisa. But this man isn’t a person that is an all-fight action hero type. He is a man with a charming personality. Lusia isn’t a hard boiled journalist going for a scoop as she holds a human side to her as well. Before long, a romance blossoms. But there is a job to be done for the two and they both hold on to their set goals. With Petros working with friend and fellow freedom fighter Dmitry (Rico Simonini), both Petros and Luisa continue to finalize in what has to be accomplished within their respected fields.

This single act play written by playwright Willard Manus is based upon the actual story between Greek freedom fighter Alexander Panagoulis and Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci who did have a romantic relationship during the conclusion of the fascist dictatorship in Greece. In this stage version, the two leads, Illia Volok as Petros and Lisa Robins as Luisa posses a chemistry toward one another, but not in any traditional sense. Both of their characters are very tight in what they do for their causes, yet possess a gentle side. (Illia Volok in his Petros character can also do some graceful Greek dance steps!!) It’s a far cry to anything one could experience in a “rom-com” feature of late where the male and female leads can be more of a “fluff” piece that something of substance.

The play itself is very solid as well, never letting its pacing falter. Daniel E. Keough directs this production as a deep drama with romantic interludes, or as a love story with noteworthy significance–take your pick!

The stage set as designed by Daniel E. Keough shows Petros’ flat in Athens as small and compact, yet is enough for this man of the honor to do his assignments.

This play takes its title from a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald that states Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy. This play does presents its heroes, yet also shows some tragic results. But exposing those tragic elements would only become a spoiler. SHOW ME A HERO is a stage production that rings true and just won’t spoil!

SHOW ME A HERO, presented by Write Act Repertory and performs at the Write Act Rep’s Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove Street (at Vineland Blvd. one block north of the intersection of Camarillo Street and Lankershim Blvd.) North Hollywood, until March 29th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more details, call (800) 838-3006 ext. 1, or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/4510530.

Write Act Repertory can be found online at http://www.WriteActRep.org
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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