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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Chop it up: Chef @Sohotheatre

One woman’s descent from a haute-cuisine head-chef to convicted inmate provides for some mouth watering entertainment in Sabrina Mahfouz’s Chef at the Soho Theatre. While it is not necessarily an unexpected journey, it provides enough interest for its short duration to make you wish you were not watching it on an empty stomach.

It all starts with a peach. With the simplest of ingredients,  Jade Anouka takes us through a range of courses that track her culinary career and the events that lead to her ending up in jail.

Food as her passion comes out more strongly in this piece than the stories of her troubled teenage years, domestic life and the need to keep things level while behind bars. The dialogue is so evocative of food, its preparation and presentation that it is bound to make you hungry.

There are also some smart witty lines in it: “The night is packed away into a black bin bag, tagged with a let’s not talk of that again, tomorrow will be better and maybe we should just get pizza.”

But you get the sense (particularly if you have ever watched any episodes of Orange is the New Black), that the troubled backdrop to extraordinary talented person behind bars has been covered more successfully elsewhere. And the shortness of the piece does not give it much time to delve deeply into anything.

Anouka is engaging throughout the piece as the cook with issues, and with a passion. And as a monologue and meditation on life choices and making art out of everyday activities it is fascinating.

It is a sparse production, with just a whiteboard covering the menu and the issues du jour and a stainless steel bench. But it is effective.

Chef was winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First 2014 and The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence. It is directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward and runs upstairs at the Soho Theatre until 4 July.


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