Last night I saw Saturday Soup – a collection of short plays by Off The Wall Players – a small emerging theatre company based in Shoreditch, east London.
The plays were performed at The Brady Arts Centre in Shoreditch – a setting right at the heart of the community depicted in the drama.
The plays explored the relationship we have with food, and how food affects, and defines the relationships we have with each other.
The idea of ‘Saturday soup’ was new to me – but it’s an established tradition in West Indian families, taking a central role at the dinner table on most weekends. Preparing the soup can take all day, with ingredients added to the pot at particular times, in a particular order.
In the titular play extract, the central conceit of the soup was used almost as a third character, a silent, bubbling presence in the background of the increasing marital woes of the two main characters.
In the other play extracts, other forms of food were the cause for disagreement, disgust, and deceit – and intense pleasure.
Moving the play into ‘real’ life
Following the three short extracts, there was a Q&A with the writer, cast and director, exploring some of the themes raised in the plays.
Then the really clever bit happened – the theatrical experience of the evening was taken on, away from the stage by the act of feeding the audience some of the food they had just heard about in the plays.
Watching the audience eating after watching the drama was a neat idea which made me look at the audience in a different way. Eating is such a natural, everyday task that we rarely think about it – but every mouthful, ever serving we dish up for someone else, every drink we sip, the way we move the food around our plates, and the speed with which we eat all speak volumes about how we feel about ourselves – and who we’re dining with.
There’s inherent drama in the act of cooking, eating, and feeding others – and these short plays explored that brilliantly. I can’t wait to see more from Off The Wall Players.