Eat Your Heart Out, at A E Harris Building, Northwood Street,
Appropriately for Halloween week, Birmingham-based Kindle Theatre is offering a fairy story with a dark undertaste.
In fact, quite literally so, because its show at Stan’s Cafe’s post-industrial base in the Jewellery Quarter is one you can taste as well as see and hear. But these are flavours you might want to approach with caution.
The company, which evidently has an interest in blurring the boundaries between theatre and other types of social ritual, has cast the show in the form of a dinner party.
But first we have to hear the story of a country ravaged by famine and other natural disasters. Greeted and ushered into a wrecked, junkyard environment by the Queen’s Aide – who, in a remarkable, cheese grater-voiced performance by Nina Smith, is possibly the most grotesque hostess since Alison Steadman in Abigail’s Party – the audience is herded through a series of increasingly intimidating spaces. The sense of menace is gradually cranked up as three simpering, possibly demented, cooks start toying with their knives.
It seems to be leading to some horrible climax, but first we do get to eat. However, the food, provided by culinary experimentalists Blanch & Shock, could be described as challenging.
As with their previous show My Father’s House, I felt Kindle’s undoubted ambition was undermined to some extent by their self-indulgence, and the narrative isn’t really much of a narrative.
But the menu was certainly good in parts, and one of the best was the music, combining vocal harmonies and an instrumental trio, which made beautiful acoustic use of adjoining spaces in this disused factory building.
* Running time: One hour (no interval). Until Sunday.