by Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada with material by Philippe Spall, Aleh Sidorchyk, Stephanie Pan, Clive Stafford-Smith.
Young Vic (The Maria) 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 15 June.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 13, 15 June 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 11 June.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
then Pleasance Grand Pleasance Courtyard 60 Pleasance EH8 9TJ 19-26 August 2013.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 June.
Theatrical documents of state terror, from ones who know all about it.
In Minsk 2011, Belarus Free Theatre depicted their country’s oppressive regime. For they are anything but free, except in the space they create at the risk of imprisonment and torture. Their new show opens by offering more of the same.
An actor enters and collapses to the floor. Others collapse, supported by fellow performers, as is one who literally walks up the wall. Sit back in comfort and enjoy the depiction of oppression from one distant republic, in a style also recalling oppositional shows from Communist Poland a generation ago.
Yet soon, defying the rule that foreign-language theatre thrives on the visual, this gives way to a speech to the audience, in immaculate English.
It’s an awkward attempt at comedy, but it introduces the world of the title. For the action that keeps people going, provides comfort and invites socialisation, eating a meal, is related throughout to human acts of destruction.
It’s not only about unjust desserts, but it starts with two cultured women – they frame the scene with operatic singing – calmly comparing their pay and responsibilities at work over a huge plate of strawberries and cream, breaking-off occasionally to subject the staff to the minor humiliations which mark-out status.
It turns out they’re execution squad commanders. One’s better paid than the other, who regrets Belarus doesn’t execute women. For Trash Cuisine takes an international perspective on state violence. Each segment has a theatrical image. A Northern Ireland ‘cook’ (actually, prisoner) has the length of time and percentage of his life spent as a suspect and in prison projected on a screen.
A human rights lawyer, seen eventually on screen, has his story apparently spoken by diners, waiter and entertainers in a smart restaurant, all eventually strapped-down.
Mix in Shakespearean speeches – The Merchant of Venice used with especially devastating impact – and allow to simmer for 100 minutes, then bring to the boil with a final surprise image and a stage garnished like a dish of death, and this show, from this brave company, who create under the spell of potential death, is one to ingest, in London or Edinburgh.
Performers: Viktoryia Biran, Pavel Haradnitski, Siarhei Kvachonak, Esther Mugambi, Stephanie Pan, Aleh Sidorchyk, Nastassia Shcherbak, Philippe Spall, Arkadiy Yushin.
Director: Nicolai Khalezin.
Designers/Costume/Concept: Nicolai Khalezin, Natalia Kaliada.
Designer: Yuri Kaliada.
Lighting: Andrew Crofts.
Music: Arkadiy Yushin.
Choreographer: Bridget Fiske.