Monday, 3 June 2013
Theatre review: Trash Cuisine
After a brief introduction, we have a chilling opener in which executioners from Thailand and Belarus compare methods of killing while eating strawberries and cream. Even the Thai executioner, though, is horrified by the revelation that Belarus doesn't return the bodies to their families. (This, and the fact that the executions are performed in secret so the families don't even know when/if their loved one has died, is one of the main issues human rights groups are fighting over in that county.)
Later we get waterboarding from Northern Ireland as well as both aand aas killings are reenacted. There's also an awful lot of nuts of the other kind as well, as part of the foodie theme.
The show is brutal and disturbing, although this is largely down to the original reports of killing and torturing we hear either recorded, or read out by the cast - I'm not convinced the various ways the company present these stories within the restaurant allegory are actually adding much to this effect other than a framing device, and a bit of distance from the horror that makes it possible for the audience to absorb this many appalling stories all at once. There are moments of the blackest humour - like an impressionist who does impressions of the sounds of different execution methods - and this is a physically talented and fearless company.
Perhaps personal irritation is why I ended up a bit cool about Trash Cuisine: Sitting in the front row has its risks, but you'd think there'd be at least a bit of warning if the audience is going to end up covered top to toe in flour and chopped onions - you get more warning, and sometimes a plastic sheet, if you're likely to get wet, and that'll just dry off. Maybe an usher on standby afterwards with a clothes brush for those like me whose clothes get particularly dirty? (Thank fuck I hadn't come straight from work in a suit.)
So there's power in this show, but I'm not sure how much of it comes from what the company have done, and how much is the terrifying source material. You'll cry, but mainly because you'll be covered in onions.
Trash Cuisine by Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada with additional material by Philippe Spall, Aleh Sidorchyk, Stephanie Pan and Clive Stafford-Smith is booking until the 15th of June at the Young Vic, and from the 19th to the 26th of August at Pleasance Edinburgh.
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes straight through.
Don't sit near the front.