Gastronauts at the Royal Court
As you enter the Royal Court’s Jerwood Upstairs space, the transformation into a clinical-style restaurant is mightily impressive, the design by the obviously capable Lizzie Clachan. The host for the evening is actor Alasdair Macrae who helms the waiters and waitresses as the pilot of the flight into our taste sensations, where we are subjected to several miniature courses of fact-filled food.
The piece makes several statements on humans’ individual and communal relationships with food. Most personal is waitress’ Imogen Doel, whose continuous habit of refusing food and obsessing over our enjoyment is quite hauntingly effective. She’s an animated performer with a great gift for comedy, yet also a fine balance of committed energy that charges into the seriousness of her character’s theme and story.
We learn about the greed of humanity and the unfair deals struck with farmers in other countries – with an impassioned exchange between actors Nathaniel Martello-White and Andy Clark highlighting our attitude that if we don’t see it, we don’t have to care about it. There’s also a concerning argument about the effects of highly publicised diet shakes and how they are marketed; this coincides gracefully with Imogen’s journey, and is emotionally enhanced by an engaging performance from Justine Mitchell.
Laced with an undercurrent of sound where the ensemble create influential yet an arguably typical restaurant backing music live with an array of instruments, it’s certainly an impressive show that subjects you to both economic questions and homemade food. It does however seem to lack the impact that it’s going for; maybe it’s the ever-changing characters or the audience concentrating on so many interactive things. But the piece is sensational in its own right, with an almost sold out run. It’s an innovative piece created by Wils Wilson, Nessah Muthy and April De Angelis, exploring our cultural attitude towards food, its sources and its value – ultimately concluding that, really, we’re only what we think we eat.
Gastronauts is at the Royal Court Theatre until 21st December 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Gastronauts here: