Ah, celebrity chefs, aren’t they amazing? Give Nigella, Jamie, Ainsley et al a few ingredients and a time limit and they will whip up a three course meal for 150 of their ‘closest’ friends who just happen to be popping in for supper that night. Makes the rest of us, who need a whole day to prepare a dinner for two people and end up going for take-out instead, look terrible doesn’t it? But, as explored in Christopher Adams’ new play Cooked at the Bread and Roses Theatre in Clapham, you can’t necessarily believe everything you see on TV.
Miranda (Pia FitzGerald) and Geoffrey (Timothy Allsop) are the modern day Fanny and Johnny Craddock of daytime cookery shows. Each episode Miranda has thirty minutes to whip up some delicious gourmet food for her husband and whoever he has invited at short notice to join them. Miranda and Geoffrey are obviously devoted to each other and their lovely dynamic means their show is a ratings winner. Unfortunately, everything in the garden is not as rosy as it appears on the box. For a start, Miranda can’t cook, and in fact, doesn’t actually like touching raw ingredients that much. There are also cracks in the marriage and Geoffrey has been told that ratings for the show have pretty much flat-lined. Geoffrey needs to come up with something spectacular to get more viewers – and mentions on social media – and will Miranda go along with Geoffrey’s plan to kill two birds with one rather extreme plan?
Cooked is a dark comedy about celebrity culture and the need to maintain your place in the hierarchy – despite what it may cost you. I have to say, the idea of a celebrity chef that can’t cook was a wonderful idea – and I would love it if one of the current bunch were exposed like this – and as a plot device it worked really well, as did everything about the show. Writer Christopher Adams (along with material from his cast) has summed up celebrity culture very well and some of the references – such as Miranda complaining that people put out YouTube videos of her being a bit too sensual with food – are very well observed and raised a knowing laugh from the appreciative audience. Director Timothy Allsop used the small stage very well, zoning it off into a kitchen area, seated area and an out of site area that meant the actors never really left the stage even when being in another ‘room’.
Both actors were very good at portraying every facet of their respective characters personalities – both the sickly sweet as seen on TV and the deepest darkest fear/anger driven reality – and were really good together. In fact, I could see them doing some ghastly morning sofa show together. In fact, all told, this was a nicely paced and written production that was very entertaining to watch and made me start thinking about celebrities in real life. After all, it is well known that double acts don’t always get on in real life – Abbot hated Costello, Steptoe hated his son, etc – so what are a celebrity married couple like when the cameras are turned off? Hopefully not quite as extreme as it gets with Miranda and Geoffrey.
So, overall, Cooked is an interesting play, with some really great comedic elements, that is a nice piece of writing combined with some lovely acting to provide a very pleasant and slightly thought-provoking night out. Well worth a visit.
Review by Terry Eastham
ScotBonnet Theatre presents Cooked, a new play written by Christopher Adams, with material by Timothy Allsop and Piz FitzGerald. Cooked runs at the Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham from 3 – 14 May 2016.
Miranda Conquest is Britain’s top celebrity chef. One problem: she can’t cook. When her marriage sours and her secret is splashed all over the media, she has no choice but to get serious in the kitchen. Cooked is a dark comedy exploring celebrity culture, control, and kitchen knives.
ScotchBonnet Theatre takes an actor-led approach to creating theatre, working with writers through a series of improvisation exercises to develop a play’s characters, story, and structure.
Bread & Roses Theatre
78 Clapham Manor Street
London SW4 6DZ