It’s no secret that I have a bit of a “thing” when it comes to Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Cox. So when I found out they’d be appearing onstage together in a show I was absolutely thrilled. Until I checked and found it would only be showing in The West End. I’d sort of written it off and figured I could live it vicariously through posts on Tumblr and Instagram and that would be that, until a few weeks ago when a Telecharge mailer was nestled in the grocery circulars. Without much thought, I grabbed my laptop and mashed the codes into the site and within moments had fed it enough personal information and promises of currency that I had two tickets coming in the mail.
This is the part where I tell you that after being shafted by “Burn This” I still have not learned to vet plays before I fling my wallet at them in an effort to be in the same room as an actor I admire. With “Betrayal” I at least gave a cursory glance at the Wikipedia article for it and found it interesting enough plot-wise that I wasn’t worried. You can see where this is going.
The 14th came and it was rainy and sort of godawful all day. Not really the sort of day you want when your evening festivities include standing in queue outside of a theater for 45+ minutes waiting for doors, but I was already too far (and too monetarily) in to call it quits. The weather broke as we drove into the tunnel, and by the time we parked the only memory of the day’s rain was a soft cool breeze off the Hudson.
This show was unlike anything I’d ever been to. For starters, it only had a 90 minute runtime with no interval. **Possible show Spoilers ahead!! For no spoilers ctrl+f and skip to the word DOUGHNUT!!**
The show itself felt like a victim of “Awful Taste But Great Execution”. It was a reverse-chronology of a love triangle between a man, his best friend, and his best friend’s wife. The show opens on a really awkward bar conversation that plays out like a Python sketch between Jerry (Cox) and his former affair partner, Emma (Ashton). They quip back and forth for a few minutes as Robert (Hiddleston) stands in the background eclipsed in shadow.
The show continues to flow in this fashion, where two characters interact while the third is rotated to the back of the stage via a mechanism like a giant lazy susan. As they wind back time you watch the affair and its discovery play out via often completely frigid interactions between the cast, where in the same breath you can feel the absolutely off the charts amazing chemistry between them you can also feel how insincere and stilted the dialogue is. The culmination of this out-of-body weird experience is in the second-to-last scene, where a drunken Jerry privately proclaims his love to Emma during a party. They are interrupted by Robert, who embraces them both and expresses how much he loves his best friend and his wife, and how lucky he is that they all get along so well. The dialogue in this scene is by far the most awkward, with the chemistry between Jerry and Emma completely dissolving as she rebuffs him. The scene does nothing to set up the several-year long affair that it precedes.
We ended up leaving the show feeling very “what the hell” about the whole thing, especially because throughout most of the audience laughed at things that were…not funny? Or even awkward? It seemed that I was missing some sort of universal “straight older couple” jokes, but I don’t know, the laughter just felt sitcom laugh-tracky.
Onto better and more delicious things. Since the show let out so much earlier than we’d anticipated we had a bit more of a selection for dinner. Based on some quick searches in the immediate area for ramen, we came across EAK Ramen. Nestled on 46th Street between 9th & 8th Avenues, it is an incredibly cute restaurant. The menu is vast, and contains a myriad of delicious things to try. You definitely can’t eat here just once. The staff were incredibly friendly and attentive, and the overall vibe of the restaurant was very casual. My partner and I opted to order a bit of everything, which amounted to the gorgeous spread pictured above. The prices are really reasonable, with our entire meal coming to $75 after tip, including two beers and two lemonades.
The gyoza were absolutely divine. The dumpling exterior had that soft delicate chew that only handmade dumplings have, and the pork filling was salty, savory, and packed with ginger. Their takoyaki were also similarly fantastic, with a generous coating of takoyaki sauce and hot mustard.
For entrees, I got a Chashu Mini Bowl, while my other half had the Tokyo Chicken Ramen. The chashu bowl came with a perfectly cooked marinated egg, two caramelly wonderful slices of chashu, spicy pickled ginger, and spinach over steamed rice. It was absolutely heavenly.
The ramen really stole the show though. The noodles were springy and velvety, almost eggy, and the broth was a multi-layered experience. A rich, savory chicken broth broken up by sharp freshness of the onion and added broccoli, made whole by a marinated egg that showered each bite in its delicious essence.
After this lovely meal, we decided to indulge in a final caper that has become a part of trips to NYC; Milkbar. For those who don’t know, Milkbar is the brainchild of Christina Tosi, a baker with a knack for turning all the stuff we weren’t allowed to have as kids into delicious nostalgia bombs. From a photo-perfect birthday cake (which your not-so-humble blogger is currently devouring) to a myriad of cookies that push the boundaries of “can I put that in there?”, her shop is a wonderland of treats and flavor combinations. Where else could you get a cereal milk latte? It’s honestly the bees knees, and worth a trip. If you aren’t ready to eat, the cookies are always a good bet as they come individually wrapped and will easily survive a trip home. If you can’t take home cookies, they also now sell the cookie mixes in tins!
For those who want to try things on hard-mode or want to make your favorite sweets at home anytime, there’s also the Milkbar cookbook. Aside from being instructions on how to replicate the various amazing treats available in store it also has the “why” of all of the techniques you’ll need to whip up your own Birthday Truffles or Compost Cookies. You can find it on Amazon at the link below!
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