Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-19739,single-format-standard,tribe-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.2.1,vc_responsive

20 Jun REVIEW: Chef at the Soho Theatre

How does a well-meaning girl desperate to be an astronaut grow into a convicted prisoner? What choices did she have to make for that to happen? And how much of an opportunity did she really have to shape those decisions? Currently playing at the Soho Theatre, Chef asks exactly these questions and a whole host more, as it takes an uncomfortably frank look at the precursors to criminality and the dilemma of culpability, as well as challenging society’s view of a convicted criminal being someone that should just be written off, stripped of rights and never trusted again.

Thanks to an interesting and engaging subject matter currently underexplored in theatre, Sabrina Mahfouz’s play was always likely to be absorbing, but the reality of the show surpasses all expectations, as an incredible dexterity of language translates into a first class script well worthy of the acclaim it has attracted. Lyrical, timbred and dense with gorgeous imagery, it could be described as a beautiful work of literature as much as drama, although to do so would downplay actress Jade Anouka’s role in bringing to life the eponymous chef, something she does with a vast amount of skill and energy, irresistible to watch and oddly relatable.

Inspired by real events, Chef not only explores the life of one woman, devastated by cycles of violence, vulnerability and abuse, but is rounded off with a nod to so many other ideas, from the invisible side of food waste, to social mobility, from fishing in rough seas, to how to prepare the perfect sorbet. And the most exciting facet? Definitely the hopefulness of the play. Not blind optimism, but a hopefulness that can, and will, empower people to seize their lives with both hands, and make the changes they want and need to make.

Just like the food prepared by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous, whose interview helped inspire the writing of the play, the secret to creating such captivating theatre lies in the simplicity with which it is staged. Expertly directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, the production is finished with barely-there scenery (Francesca Reidy) like a perfectly precise garnish, complementing and enhancing, without detracting from the main dish of the play. The result? An enthralling 50 minutes that seize attention and refuse to let it go, questioning attitudes and challenging perceptions.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Soho Theatre
Dates: 15th June – 4th July 2015

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here