Walking into The Kitchen from afar

I really need to write these commentaries immediately after I see the show in question, no matter if it is late at night!

Thursday night brought a return visit to the NT Live programme (I deliberately use the British spelling) of live theatre productions from the National Theatre in London brought to your local cinema screen. It had been too long since I’d last attended one of these broadcasts, mostly for various complicated scheduling reasons. Now they could provide show #49, The Kitchen. Linking to the production’s home page makes me notice that it will be closing in London three days from now after a successful fall run.

On a local culture observational note, I was disappointed to be one of only two audience members in attendance at the screening in Wilmington. I know that Delaware is not exactly Broadway, and the screening was not well advertised, but I would have liked to have seen at least 15-20 people there. Perhaps there will be more enthusiasm when I attend their December screening of Collaborators, a new play by John Hodge.

I have some reservations about the “theatre in cinemas” trend that the NT Live helped to pioneer, but in this instance, I sat back and let my imagination do the work. It helped that I am familiar with the (real) performance space, the Olivier Theatre. I could easily envision that I was right back there in the cavernous production space with a full house of audience members around me.

The play itself, The Kitchen, was surprisingly captivating. The unspecific advertising campaign made me envision a standard ensemble drama. The reality of the play showed a distinct duality. Act 1 seemed operatic at times, with emphasis on building the group ensemble of the aforementioned kitchen and hard working restauranteurs. Having built up the story, the actors and director were free to zero in on specificity within Act 2, leading to several provocative storylines and confrontational moments.

If I had written this on Thursday night, I might be more specific. The more you know…


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