Edinburgh Fringe 2016
In a world which sometimes seems full of endless TV cooking shows, this highly original, imaginative and raucous sixty minutes delivers a mix of every ingredient except actual food. Part of Assembly’s Korean season, this cooking-competition-inspired production showcases the extraordinary talents of its ensemble in a celebration of smart, silly fun.
Two TVs chefs, together with their assorted team of assistants, compete to whip up their favourite dishes with an accompanying fanfare that includes opera, breakdancing, group musical numbers, slapstick, puppetry and acrobatics. An extraordinary beatboxing pair provide the soundscape for the entire show. What’s not to like?
These excellent performers are among the most enthusiastic and generous entertainers at the Fringe. This production is made for its audience and will get a smile out of anyone, even the tight-lipped, cross-armed guy in the front row whom one of the chefs teasingly picks on. Its utter awareness of what it is, and what we’ll perceive it to be, is cleverly utilised to humorous advantage.
‘Chef: Come Dine with Us’ establishes itself as a show with international appeal within the opening minute, as a chef asks members of the audience to shout out where they’re from. “Taiwan” and “Singapore” were greeted with smiles of recognition; “Lithuania” and “Slovakia” with faux consideration and cheeky looks that said, “Where’s that now?” The (English) speaking is minimal, with most of the communication done through impressive beat boxing, amusingly self-conscious stock characters and flawless, animated slapstick. This is a show truly anyone will be able to access and enjoy.
Honestly, you must go see this show, if only because it’s so difficult to really explain what it’s like. Scenes are seamlessly changed while you’re distracted by dancing. The audience interaction pushes limits, prompting one participant when I was there to flash her wedding ring in the hopes that she’d be let off the hook. Then just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, all the lights go off and the stage fills with sea creatures, before the chefs pick a pillow fight with the entire auditorium.
It’s an incredibly fun afternoon. Just go, seriously, go.