Kitchen nightmares, vintage style

A revival of the vibrant 50s culinary drama by Arnold Wesker will be beamed live to St James Cavalier on October 6.

1950s London. In the kitchen of an enormous West End restaurant, the orders are piling up: a post-war feast of soup, fish, cutlets, omelettes and fruit flans.

Fifteen hundred customers, an’ half of them eating fish. And our hapless protagonist just had to start work on a Friday.

Thrown together by their work, chefs, waitresses and porters from across Europe – English, Irish, German, Jewish – argue and flirt as they race to keep up. Peter, a high-spirited young cook, seems to thrive on the pressure. In between preparing dishes, he manages to strike up an affair with married waitress Monique, the whole time dreaming of a better life. But in the all-consuming clamour of the kitchen, nothing is far from the brink of collapse.

They all said we wouldn’t last the day, but tell me – what is there a man can’t get used to?

Arnold Wesker’s extraordinary play premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries. The Kitchen puts the workplace centre stage in a blackly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed, when work threatens to define who we are.

A cast of over 30 actors literally chop, cut and sweat their way through a whole day in the Tivoli Restaurant. Starting early morning with the buying and preparing, to the frenzy of lunchtime through the afternoon daydream of escaping from the industrial sweatshop that is the kitchen of a major London restaurant and finally to an exhausting evening meal and home Arnold Wesker’s morality play on commerce and humanity is as strikingly relevant as when it was first performed.

And in Bijan Shelbani’s direction and with the balletic choreography of Aline Davis, this production manages to celebrate the wonders of humanity as it works as a team as well as the anxiety of man as he realises that he is a mere cog in a machine.

Fast, furious, funny and at times very poignant, with a cast of memorable characters, Wesker’s play remains one of the classics of 20th Century drama.

Catch it live on Thursday 6th October at 8 pm at St James Cavalier Cinema. Book online at The play will be beamed live to St James Cavalier from The National Theatre in London on October 6 at 20:00, with encore shows on October 8, 14 and 23, also at 20:00. Tickets are at €12 for the live performance, €10 for encores. Concessions are at €8, €5 for children. To book, email on [email protected] or phone 21 223200.