Eat it up: Mumburger @ORLTheatre
If barbecues and eating bring people together, Mumburger takes it to a new level in dealing with death and loss. Currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre Sarah Kosar's take on death, family and meat is funny and thought-provoking. And a little off-putting if you're squeamish.
Mum's dead. She got hit by a truck on the M25. The two people she left behind - a father and daughter are grieving. There are the usual funeral plans and picking up relatives from the airport. But there is also the arrival of a brown package of meat patties to deal with.
Did their mum arrange for them to be delivered on her death, knowing full well that unlike her they were only part-time vegetarians? Or are they symbolic of something more?
Rosie Wyatt and Andrew Frame as the grieving father and daughter make the surreal believable. She recites poetry and he reminisces about a film from the nineties. Both are lost but connect over a love for barbecued food.
And there is some on-stage cooking. The smell of burnt meat wafts through the intimate space of the Old Red Lion Theatre. Two burgers are cooked with a blow torch. Vegans (or burger lovers who have come to the theatre on an empty stomach) beware.
The choice to have live blowtorched burgers tends to distract from the text. Instead of focussing on the action you keeping thinking, "Surely they aren't going to eat that?"
Perhaps a more mundane setting such as a kitchen might have been better. But with observations on the ubiquity of social media, online footage and mass entertainment, there's enough food for thought here in Kosar's text, and combined with some slick projections, gives the piece its impact.
Directed by Tommo Fowler, Mumburger is at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 22 July.
Photos by Lidia Crisafulli