Friday, February 28, 2020

Victorian Murder-Fest Takes Over Cafe Nordo

Creepy moment in The Angel in the House (Bruce Clayton Tom)

The Angel in the House

Café Nordo

Through March 15, 2020

You’re invited to the home of Mr. Edmund and Mrs. Amelia Brown (David S. Hogan and Angela DiMarco) for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1899. They and their close friends Fletcher and Clara James (Ray Tagavilla and Ayo Tushinde) and Dorian and Bertha Williams (Robin Ian HallSmith and Tatiana Pavela) will lead you through a mysterious ceremony during the celebration.

You’ll meet their trusty servant Daisy (Maddie Brantz) as well. But when Amelia’s “cousin,” Henry Smith (Jordi Montes) arrives and is suddenly found dead, the evening turns dark and forbidding.

The story of the evening was written and directed by Sara Porkalob. She chose this Victorian theme of religious righteousness (with overtones of blasphemy) and includes a feminist retribution of pagan origins.

If you choose to attend this auspicious event, you’re encouraged to dress in either angelic attire (white dress coat, crinolines, garden hats) or black. Playing along is part of the fun of an evening at Nordo, but it’s by no means required.

You’ll be served a Chrysanthemum Salad (with tamarind sesame Burmese tofu, hazelnuts, and cilantro) after you’re seated at communal tables of (generally) four to six. Then the three-act play will begin. After each act, they’ll serve a soup, main dish, and dessert.

This beet-hater was delighted to be able to eat the Beet, Pear, and Roasted Garlic Soup (with pistachio and goat cheese rosettes) – blood red for a bloody evening. The main dish (with a veggie substitute if needed) was a succulent and moist Maple-leaf Duck Breast in Swiss Chard (with duchess potatoes, habeñero cherries, and cherry beurre blanc). The dessert was a sublime Blackberry Chantilly Cream served on the side of luscious and freshly-made Lavender and Lemon Madeleines.

I am not a foody, and approach these diverse menus carefully, but part of the delight is to encourage myself to try everything, as much as possible, and quite often, I find that I can enjoy many items there that I would never order for myself, elsewhere.

Each menu is carefully created to match and mirror whatever the script of the event is. Executive Chef Erin Brindley designs every meal and also crafts flights of wine and spirits to please the dishes, as well. You’re virtually guaranteed never to have the exact same meal twice at Café Nordo! (Unless you attend the same show a second time.)

The trappings of this story are beautifully rendered by set design of Emily Sershon, creating a grand terrace and spooky lighting and sound designs from Ahren Buhmann and Evan Mosher. Gorgeous music is played live by composer Annastasia Workmann.

The actors perform gracefully, enhanced by some precise and appropriate choreography of Victorian-era dancing by Parmida Ziaei. However, the whole story has a lot of holes in it, referring to some kind of 300-year-old “society” with a lot of secrets. Their reasons for doing what they do are shrouded and not much is clarified by the end of the evening. 

Still, Porkalob has performed, herself, in Nordo shows, written another (much more coherent and charming) show for them, 7th and Jackson, and knows well the kind of evening the Nordo creators are seeking. And the attempt to infuse actual magic tricks via an interlude with Montes and an audience member is fun. So, if you’re not picky about the actual story, you’ll likely be enchanted.

For more information, go to or call 206-209-2002.

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