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Soho Theatre



Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 13th July 2022



“sometimes funny, but mostly heart-breaking, and brilliantly told”


It seems mad that something so silly as lunch can be so heated and rich in discussion, but it is. Somehow it draws in everything else that’s important: Family, culture, politics, self-worth. Everything can be got at by discussing what you just ate, be it a chicken nugget or an oyster. And in the case of Hungry, it’s both a chicken nugget and an oyster.

Lori, a highly strung chef, hires Bex as a waiter, and from their first day, there’s a pull between them. Both could talk for England, and both are bold and vivacious. But Lori shows her love by wanting to show Bex what she’s missing; all the finer things, “Chicken nuggets are not special, your life is not special. But it should be.” And whilst Bex knows there’s something wrong about this, she struggles to name it, particularly when Lori is so impassioned and enthusiastic.

This is not a story about goodies versus baddies. It’s about the good intentions of a white woman being misguided and patronising; a clash of heritage- both class and race. And, as a white audience member, that makes it both very uncomfortable to watch and very necessary. Because it’s uncomfortable when someone looks you in the eye, and gently but firmly tells you you’re wrong.

Writer Chris Bush has a way of writing dialogue that is simultaneously vernacular and rhapsodic, incorporating the personal with the political, so you never feel the characters are simply mouthpieces for a more important message. The first few scenes feel a bit manic, but the energetic characters can account for that, plus it’s a lot to fit in to 70 minutes, and presumably Bush wanted to get a wiggle on.

Two metal trolley tables act as pretty much the whole set. Slamming together at the beginning of a scene, or moving gently apart, they serve as worktop, kitchen table, bedframe, battleground. With two such strong characters, there’s really no need for much else, and the simplicity of Lydia Denno’s design means that, for example, when Bex starts stamping on crisp packets and throwing crisps around like confetti, it’s all the more affecting.

Melissa Lowe and Eleanor Sutton are electric together, matched in spirit and quality of performance. Their timing is immaculate, interrupting and withholding in exquisite tandem. Both roles are difficult in their own ways: Lowe’s Bex is mouthy and quick-witted, but she’s on the back foot in this relationship, which seems a strange amalgam in theory, but makes perfect sense in this performance. Similarly, Sutton’s Lori is nervous and neurotic, but she holds the power. Her arguments are thoughtful and persuasive, and yet deeply problematic- a difficult balance to pull off without seeming disingenuous.

This isn’t really about food, but food is the perfect vehicle for its message, because it is both universal, and personal; unifying and segregating. In short, it’s complicated and important, as is the story of Hungry, sometimes funny, but mostly heart-breaking, and brilliantly told.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by The Other Richard



Soho Theatre until 30th July ahead of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 3rd-28th August



Recently reviewed at this venue:
An Evening Without Kate Bush | ★★★★ | February 2022
Y’Mam | ★★★★ | May 2022


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[The Cobbled Streets of Geneva]


VAULT Festival 2020

The Cobbled Streets of Geneva

[ The Cobbled Streets of Geneva ]

Cage – The Vaults

Reviewed – 11th February 2020



“a short, brave piece with an inclusivity and depth that lives up to a motto of, ‘Continuing to widen as we learn.’”


A tender and unexpected love story that crosses barriers and explores questions of image and identity is a fresh new offering that defies convention at the VAULT Festival.

“[ The Cobbled Streets of Geneva ]” is a gentle rom-com with a happy ending, yet it tackles issues not often seen portrayed on stage. The growing relationship between two Muslim men from differing backgrounds has a dangerous edge and, in Nemo Martin’s confident writing, challenges perceptions of religion, culture and lifestyle.

The unlikely relationship is kindled when the middle-aged hard-bitten bodyguard Adham (a perfectly nervous and cynical Ashley Alymann) encounters Raushan, a kindly Imam (a warm-hearted and affable Shiraz Khan) outside his Inclusive Mosque in North London and a platonic friendship begins.

We see nothing of the way this friendship grows over the couple of years between the opening scene and the next, which is a great shame as it would pave the way more clearly into the main story.

A demanding boss hopes to set Adham up on a date on a looming trip abroad, so in panic he invents a husband and asks Raushan if he will engage in some role play for the occasion.

The all-inclusive week’s holiday in the Swiss Alps provides the atmospheric backdrop to the queer romance, with both characters understanding more about themselves as well as about each other. The olde worlde charm of Geneva sits alongside its reputation as the Peace Capital and a centre for diplomacy as the pair grows closer.

Director Jo Tyabji never once misses the hope-filled possibilities of the play and the relationship it portrays. While so much around us concentrates on why things fail, Tyabji discovers the humour and romanc e in “a couple of old Muslims holding hands and dancing under the stars.”

A great early line sums up the nature of the piece as Raushan catches Adham staring at his face and asks what he’s seen, to be met with the response, “infuriating optimism.”

The square brackets around the title refer to captions on photos often used to help the visually impaired experience the full view and ambience of a given location. In describing what we see, the play suggests we experience it with greater intimacy.

The play does suffer in that it feels like something that was written to be longer, but which has been edited down to satisfy the time constraints of the VAULT Festival. This means there are several short cuts taken in character and plot development.

A more fully realised version will be all the more beautiful and welcome. For now, we have a short, brave piece with an inclusivity and depth that lives up to a motto of, ‘Continuing to widen as we learn.’


Reviewed by David Guest


VAULT Festival 2020



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