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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

The Society for New Cuisine

Fun Guy Productions Ltd.

Genre: Contemporary, Drama, New Writing, Theatre

Venue: Underbelly


Low Down

Are you truly satisfied with how you are living, or do things feel… broken to you? What would you give for a taste of new understanding? The debut one-man play by East-Asian writer and performer Chris Fung (Frozen and Cyrano de Bergerac in the West End, Evita at Regents Park), this dark satirical fable is an extended Buddhist allegory that deals with consumerism, mental health and existential crisis.


The intrigue and questions regarding The Society for New Cuisine begin with its title. Even the fanciest of dining clubs and snobbiest of foodies wouldn’t refer to themselves as societies, so what could this be? Moreover, what is this possible new cuisine? 

A query jumpstarts this ambitious play as well. The show’s protagonist, named The Man (played by Chris Fung), sits in a chair, waiting anxiously for the show to begin. Once it does he asks: “You know that feeling when you’ve had too much coffee? And your heart pounds heavily in your chest. Like the thud of a bowling ball on an alley floor.” Thus from the moment go the audience knows this solo show is not going to be a comforting bath of nostalgia. Far from it. 

The Man, a contracts lawyer who doesn’t like his job but is willing to pay his dues (“Being a junior lawyer is like taking a sharpened rock and chiseling into your skull”), recalls a painful failed relationship before detailing his rebound with a mysterious woman named Sylvie who starts pushing him to his limits: “To get something important, people have to pay a price.” And Sylvie has expensive tastes, and wants to go to Greece. If he wants to keep her, he’ll get her there. 

It is then that The Man sees an ad for The Society for New Cuisine, which is offering a thousand pounds for a single blood donation, an offer that seems too good to be true. To say much more would spoil the ride, but suffice it to say that this is when the dark, cavernous vibe of Underbelly serves this production well. 

Though the show only has a single chair for a set, the world of this play feels very full because of its amazing sound and lighting design. Director Megan Brewer does a splendid job sustaining the tension as the play veers quickly from one storyline or anecdote to another, and Fung, who has a naturally appealing and chameleonic stage presence, effortlessly transitions from playing The Man to other characters who may not be likable but are never less than engrossing. 

The Society for New Cuisine is Fung’s first foray into playwriting, and for a first play, it is very, very impressive. I look forward to his next, but for now, this play’s many invoked images, and its haunting ending, continue to linger.       




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