From left, Angela Sauer, Andrew Elvis Miller, Ronald Auguste, and Gary Patent star in the Ensemble Theatre Company production of SEARED by Theresa Rebeck, directed by Jonathan Fox and now playing at the New Vic Theatre in Santa Barbara. | Photo: Zach Mendez

Seared, directed by Jonathan Fox and presented by Ensemble Theatre Company, is an enjoyable, fast-paced comedy about a tempestuous “food artist” in a Brooklyn restaurant. Written by Theresa Rebeck, Seared is recent enough to have only enjoyed a couple of runs (including San Francisco and New York) — but it certainly has the potential to become a favorite of the theater scene.

There’s much ado about scallops when a blurb goes up in New York Magazine’s “best bets” column about a Park Slope neighborhood restaurant’s glorious treatment of the delicacy. When the foodies descend, the “genius” chef, Harry (Andrew Elvis Miller), takes the dish off the menu, refusing to compromise his vision and yield to demand. In response, Harry’s exasperated business partner, Mike (Gary Patent), brings a consultant, Emily (Angela Sauer), into the mix to turn the struggling restaurant into a culinary hotspot. Tempers boil over as Harry and Emily’s ideals and the issue of art versus capitalism clash.

The cast of Seared supplies the ingredients and the heat necessary for a savory, well-cooked production. Miller is an impeccably messy perfectionist with a bad-boy persona that hides a gentle soul. Sauer is the very spirit of capitalism, bright and enticing with a cold, gleeful opportunism that shamelessly prioritizes financial success. Patent circles the drain of desperation as his investment starts to spiral out of his control, and Ronald Auguste, as Rodney the waiter, provides the voice of reason in the room, balancing the treble of the other hysterical personalities and giving hope that the situation can be stabilized.

Seared balances humor and drama with a light hand to create well-prepared stakes: They are high enough to be relatable and engaging, but not so intense as to clench teeth (or roll eyes). It’s fun summer fare that exemplifies an important conversation about the sustainability of a career in artistry, produced by an adept team of theater artists. 

Seared runs through June 25 at the New Vic Theatre (33 W. Victoria St.). See


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