Co-directed by Kate Champion and Steve Rodgers
Minestrone by Benedict House
Wine by Royal Hotel Queanbeyan
Sourdough by Baker’s Delight Queanbeyan
Presented by Belvoir and Force Majeure
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan 27-30 August 2014
Review by Len Power 27 August 2014
Here’s a show with everything – including dinner!
In a kitchen of what seems to be a takeaway shop, possibly in an Australian country town, two sisters work side by side preparing food. Their conversations paint a picture of their lives and memories, not all of it happy or satisfying. Into their lives comes a young Turkish man looking for work as a kitchen hand. Cultural collisions between them are amusing at first and we are drawn into the emotional needs and actions of the characters as the play progresses.
Writer, Steve Rodgers, and his co-director, Kate Champion, have produced a striking production which shows some very real people in an Australian setting we can readily identify with. There is a strong blend of acting and movement in the direction that is uniquely satisfying. The tasteful design of a love making sequence in movement and without words is beautiful and especially memorable.
Mel King as the older sister gives an excellent performance. There is such subtlety in her playing that, by the end of the show, you know her so well it hurts to think about where her life is going. Emma Jackson plays the wilder younger sister with great physicality, emotional strength and excellent comic timing. Fayssal Bazzi as the young Turkish man also displays great comic timing as well as a finely controlled intensity in the later emotional scenes.
The set design by Anna Tregloan is visually pleasing and clever in its use of kitchen pots and pans as part of the design. Martin Langthorne’s lighting design complements the set very well and is especially striking when lighting changes cause the polished bases of the pots on the wall to change colour and create a different mood. Music composed by Ekrem Mülayim is subtle and adds greatly to the atmosphere.
What could have just been a gimmick – the cast serving food to the audience at one point – actually works very well. It’s not just the lucky few down the front who get fed. The cast nimbly work their way around the whole theatre offering lots of cups of minestrone, bread and red wine. Their ad libs during this sequence were well chosen and delightfully funny. It’s a real skill to be able to do something like this and stay in character throughout.
The play presents very real people in real situations, some of it funny, some of it bleak and unsettling. It certainly presents a slice of Australian life that is not flattering. The language is raw but not inappropriate for the characters portrayed. This might be one of the most memorable plays I’ve seen this year.