Monday, October 31, 2011

The Kitchen (National Theater Live) A+

by Arnold Wesker
Directed by Bijan Sheibani

Magi,night porter....Tendayi Jembere
Max, butcher...Ian Burfield
Bertha, vegetable cook.....Tricia Kelly
Frank, second chef, poultry.....Neal Barry
Alfredo, roast....Vincenzo Nicoli
Hans, fry....Marek Oravec
Peter, boiled fish....Tom Brooke
Kevin, fried fish....Rory Keenan
Gaston, grill....Stavros Demetraki
Michael, eggs....David Benson
Nicholas, cold buffet....Craige Els
Paul, pastry chef....Samuel Roukin
Raymondo, assistant pastry chef....Gerard Monaco
Head Chef....Paul McCleary
Marango, proprietor....Bruce Myers
Anne, desserts and coffee....Siobhan McSweeney
Mangols, kitchen porter....Hambi Pappas
Dimitri, kitchen porter....Sam Swann
Head Waiter....Tim Samuels
Tramp....Colin Haigh

The Waitresses
Monique....Katie Lyons
Molly....Rebecca Humphries
Winnie....Sarah Mowat
Hettie....Rendah Heywood
Violet....Rosie Thomson
Gwen....Ruch Gibson
Daphne....Stephanie Thomas
Cynthia....Rebecca Davies
Betty....Sarah Sweeney

sez says: this is beautifully done (choreographed) so it is fun to watch -- and the topic is a perennial--because it is one that we as humans, keep asking and don't know the answer to.  That is, what is your dream?  What is freedom?  What would a fulfilled life be?  The answer is not some ephemeral, ie: that you want a car, or sex. Maybe you draw closer when you say you want a real friend, or a loyal spouse.  But when your life is so hectic--busy--driven (preparing food for 2000 people a day in The Kitchen) you don't have time to think, to dream, to contemplate life.  As one character says: "Put a man in a factory and he makes a little knob all day...eventually he becomes a little knob."

And in the end, The Owner asks:  Is there something I don't know? Is there something I need to know?  What is there more?

Also, this seems to be a metaphor for the international situation, after WW2. The play was written in the 1950s.  The people who work in the kitchen are from all over the world--and they have a variety of problems getting along, that seem to mirror national antagonisms at the time. For instance Peter is a German who was in a fight with a crowd that has encircled him the night before the play is set--there is anger that in the end he just shakes everyone's hands and walks away. There is a lot of reference to people/nations who can't accept apologies and they must be brought to order by threats and being given a 'big scare'. Peter says yes, the Germans once built triumphant arches--but that didn't work out so now they are using their skills to build bridges. 

Over the top outstanding is actor Tom Brooke, as Peter. What a fabulous performance.  The acting all round was first rate but his was inspired.
mjc says:  This was another wonderful experience at NT Live.  The production values, choreography, acting, is just so superb.

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