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Cooking with Juniper at the Vault Festival – Review

Cooking with JuniperIt is very rare these days that one ventures on to social media without being confronted with a variety of cooking, recipe or meal-based videos. Cooking with Juniper is a satirical look at this type of footage and mocks the way we fantasise about the perfect dinner and how to prepare it. The performance is presented as a live filming of a cooking programme, with the audience taking a peek into how Juniper makes these short videos for her fans.

Juniper Berry invites you into her kitchen as she attempts to record her latest cookery programme.” The main source of humour in this show starts with the word ‘attempts.’ There are a multitude of mistakes and ‘kitchen nightmares’ that occur, leaving Juniper frustrated at both her failure in this home video and with her daughter ‘Cointreau.’ ‘Juniper’, Georgina Thomas and ‘Cointreau’, Anna Goodman, are superbly contrasted in their characters and the growing list of errors in their cooking video creates a clear disruption in the family dynamic, which the mother and daughter are trying to present. Indeed the ironic relationship of the pair lends itself well to the comedy of the piece, taking the classic mother/daughter arguments (such as discussing ex-boyfriends) and placing them in an extremely high-pressure environment where they are on display for the world to see.

With the audience regularly laughing at both the ridiculousness of the situation and the growing tension between the ladies, Cooking with Juniper successfully kept us engaged and excited for what was going to happen next. The strength of this piece lies in the characters created by Thomas and Goodman. Juniper was depicted as a classic mum, who smiled through adversity and delicately explained each action in her cooking process – whilst clearly trying to take control of her incompetent daughter, who was obviously forced by her mother to be in the video. Cointreau was therefore far less enthusiastic about her cooking and offered the audience an alternative style (such as fumbling over the simplest task of breaking eggs), which hilariously contradicted her co-host, Juniper.

It would have been worthwhile for both characters to be even bigger, in the sense that their mannerisms and peculiarities could have been even more ridiculous and over the top. By being even more outrageous in this way, the show would have avoided the occasional slower moments which crept in and would have allowed the piece to go one step further in its parody. Moments of shock (such as Cointreau throwing eggs over her mothers head)
needed to happen more to allow the piece to be an overt comment on how absurd these cooking videos are.

There were, however, sections within the performance that played on this idea. A real highlight of Cooking with Juniper was the video questions, projected onto a screen behind the kitchen. The 4 or 5 of these that happen were fantastically funny and the variation of characters created by Thomas and Goodman were brilliant. From a lady asking Juniper for a dog food recipe, while pulling a toy dog on a lead – to a stereotypical London lady doing yoga in a business shirt, asking about which juice to make for her friends – Thomas and Goodman have devised a series of characters that continued to surprise and delight throughout. If they can add this level of exaggeration into the characters of Juniper and Cointreau, then the piece will do even more in making its audience fall into fits of laughter.

4 stars

Review by James Evans

Roll up your sleeves, roll out the pastry and prepare to tuck in as renowned chef, Juniper Berry, invites you into her kitchen as she attempts to record her latest cookery programme. In this self-raising hour of comedy, expect a healthy sprinkling of chaos, some thoroughly overbeaten eggs and an alcoholic aftertaste.

Cooking with Juniper is a live comedy cookery programme presented by Juniper Berry and her daughter, Cointreau. The show explores the mother/daughter relationship around food, insecurities and social expectations and brings them all to a boiling point.

SHORT BACK AND SIDES
Anna and Georgina met whilst taking part in the Soho Theatre Young Company comedy courses. They first started developing Cooking with Juniper off the back of a character sketch performed at the Soho Theatre. Since then they have taken Juniper to the Wandsworth Fringe festival and are embarking on a series of YouTube cookery tutorials.

Cooking With Juniper
Saturday 17th February
Vault Festival
https://vaultfestival.com/

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