[THEATRE: Review] Food
Until May 20 / Belvoir St Theatre
I think it’s fair to say that we live in a food-obsessed society: conversations about weight or eating pervade almost any social situation, our television seems to be a constant stream of cooking and weight-loss shows, while we ourselves seesaw between planning the next meal and planning how to shed it. This conflict forms a key part of Food, the latest of ten new Australian works featured in this year’s Belvoir season.
Written by Steve Rodgers, who has been ubiquitous in Australian theatre and TV for decades as an actor and more recently a playwright, and co-directed by Kate Champion, who is best known as the key creative behind dance theatre company Force Majeure, Food brings us into the kitchen of a takeaway shop, where sisters Elma (Kate Box) and Nancy (Emma Jackson) prepare food for the inevitable tsunami of tradies wanting their chips. When Nancy convinces Elma to turn their humble takeaway joint into a charming, home-cooked restaurant that the tourists will flock to, a kitchen hand is required – and when Hakan (Fayssal Bazzi), a young Turkish man with enthusiasm to spare, is the only applicant, it adds a new flavour to their tried and tested mix.
The characters and relationships here are nothing new: Elma is the hard-working sister who stayed to look after the family business; Nancy is the party girl who the boys always preferred and who ran away to live her own life rather than be ‘tied down’; Hakan is hard-working and charming, and wins the girls over with his singing. But the characters are so tenderly drawn that their familiarity engenders empathy rather than indifference.
Rodger’s tight script is beautifully supported by Champion’s movement, which delicately extends and magnifies moments of emotion. The cast do their combined vision justice, with Box finding both the determination and frailty in Elma, and Jackson effortlessly taking us into Nancy’s ambiguous world of memory, whilst Bazzi manages to charm the pants off just about everyone.
It’s fun, it’s captivating and you might even get fed.