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CHEF – Soho Theatre, London.

600x600.fitdownSabrina Mahfouz’s punchy script really shines in this solo performance of Chef. Performed by Jade Anouka, directed by Kirsty Patrick Wood and produced by Just for Laughs Theatricals, this strong creative team have developed a hard hitting narrative, which not only provides juicy moments of unpredictability, but also gives a realistic portrayal of life working as a chef in the confinements of a prison.

The very minimal set, which goes unnoticed for the majority of the performance, creates just the right level of atmosphere with its bland colours and rigid structure. The main focus is a whiteboard, which details numerous recipes the audience gets to know pretty well throughout the duration of the piece. In fact the succulent, mouthwatering dishes are described to us almost as if we were watching a daytime cookery programme, and they are partnered with musical interludes similar to adverts. The kitchen knife is a stark juxtaposition to all this, as it’s often put to a far more gruesome use than chopping vegetables.

Anouka slips perfectly into the shoes of a solo performer, and conveys the passion, heartbreak and fight within her character beautifully. Connecting to the audience with impeccably timed speech and unashamedly penetrating eye contact, she is able to switch from character to character – even mixing genders – with incredible ease, morphing her physical stance and vocal range clearly and concisely. The language rolls off of Anouka’s tongue without any hesitation and at times, particularly when reminiscing about her character’s father, the heartbreaking glisten of the words she articulates is incredibly poignant: “So I will not mend your broken eyes/with stitches of moisture/from my soaked-through scrapbook”.

A mesmerising performance, combined with Mahfouz’s lyrical and poetic script, culminates in a raw, energetic and particularly graphic 50 minutes. Chef is an emotional piece which questions our attitudes on many subjects, including love, loss and justice.

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Reviewed 17/06/2015

By Natalie Green

15th June – 4th July 2015
Soho Theatre, London, W1D 3NE.

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