I Was Really Very Hungry: A Portrait of M.F.K. Fisher, Live Bait Theater. This new play reveals the emotional appetite of one of the greatest American food writers of the 20th century, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, whose writing went beyond recipes, restaurant reviews, and menus to probe human behavior surrounding food and hunger. Kelly Nespor has collected Fisher’s short stories, food writing, and personal diaries and arranged them in a loosely chronological way so that we see her transformation from impressionable schoolgirl to idealistic first wife to mature, worldly writer and wife of painter Dillwyn Parrish. We learn how in her middle-class household children were never encouraged to enjoy their food–and how we humans are always seeking satisfaction. Her prose is as rich and sensuous as the meals she describes, and director Paul Frellick turns the text into simple, dramatic tableaux, with the actors directly addressing the audience.

Lily Shaw makes a charming Fisher, a thinker clearly ahead of her time. She captures Fisher’s youth yet also manages to mature before our eyes as Fisher comes to terms with her second husband’s illness and death. Playing the principal characters in her life–as well as other creatures in her narratives, including a pair of oysters–are the agile and talented Jennifer Friedmann, Kurt Ehrmann, Laurie Larson, and David Tierney.