Food | Belvoir and Force Majeure

Food | Belvoir and Force MajeureFood is a delicious piece of theatre. It is adventurous while still being comforting, warm without being cloying. It's a play about food and is impossible not to talk about in rhetoric that sounds like it's straight out of Masterchef – you want to gobble it up and then go back for seconds.

Food is the story of sisters Elma (Kate Box) and Nancy (Emma Jackson). Elma runs the takeaway place that has been in her family for many years, but inspired by Nancy, she makes the decision to turn it into a restaurant, serving comforting, home-style, 'normal' food. The sisters take on Turkish-born Hakan (Fayssal Bazzi) as a kitchenhand, and the three form a bond which, although unusual and more than a little dysfunctional, is beautiful.

The play is as much about family as it is about food, and in the play as in real life, the two are deeply connected. Elma's desire to feed people comes from a place of deep loneliness, and the doubt she exhibits in her cooking mirrors her own anxieties. Food overcomes the emotional and cultural barriers between Elma, Nancy and Hakan to make them a family; and in a truly memorable scene, food overcomes the fourth wall – the onstage restaurant spills into the audience, as we are treated to bread, minestrone, and wine. Through food there is growth, there is sharing, there is communication, and there is healing.

Kate Box's performance as Elma is one of the best I have seen on stage in Sydney this year. She is funny, anxious, tough, and heartbreaking all at once. Her Elma is layered, complex, and wholly believable. She is ably supported by Emma Jackson as her sister Nancy, and Fayssal Bazzi as Hakan is an absolute revelation. His comic timing is impeccable, and the rapport he establishes with both actresses and the audience is remarkable. This play is perfectly cast and wonderfully designed and directed. The kitchen onstage really became real when the audience could smell the minestrone – I would have loved more of this olfactory element (but that would understandably be extremely complicated to pull off!).

Food is not all uplifting. The sisters' back story is a dark counterpoint to the heartwarming story of their new restaurant. Audiences shouldn't expect everything to be as light and fluffy as a meringue or a souffle. They should expect, however, a show that is a robust meal – warm, substantial, and completely delicious. I recommend this play unreservedly.

Belvoir and Force Majeure present
by Steve Rodgers

Directors Kate Champion & Steve Rodgers

Venue: Belvoir St Theatre | 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills
Dates: 26 April – 20 May 2012
Times: Tuesday 7pm | Wednesday to Friday 8.15pm | Saturday 2.15pm & 8.15pm | Sunday 5.15pm
Tickets: $42 – $32
Bookings: 02 9699 3444 |

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