English playwrights in the 1950s and 60s wrote so many plays set in dingy homes and involving lower-middle class families that they began to be termed "kitchen sink drama." Arnold Wesker's drama, "The Kitchen," is set in a restaurant kitchen but is so inflammatory it might be better called "kitchen stove drama."
The play, written by Wesker in 1957, was revived in London a few months ago by the National Theatrer, and the movie shot from the stage production can be seen at the Tivoli on Saturday (today, Oct. 29) and next Saturday (Nov. 5), at 11 a.m. It's an exciting film, from an exciting play, directed by Bijan Sheibani, and the marvelous movement of the cast, almost balletic or choreographed, is by the brilliant Aline David.
It's a simple tale, a day in the life of a large, busy restaurant where the staff goes almost berserk preparing for lunch, has some down time for character development during the afternoon and returns with a fury of dinner preparation and conflict.
The cast of about 30 moves with such speed that it truly looks like a restaurant being "slammed," with everyone wanting to be fed at the same time -- right away.
We begin with the arrival of a new cook, Kevin (Rory Keenan), just in from Ireland and facing his first day on the job. The protagonist, a German fish cook, Peter (Tom Brooke) is having an affair with Monique (Rosie Thomson), a married waitress who is waffling badly over a decision to leave her husband. All are excellent. Other major characters are an optimistic pastry chef, played strongly by Samuel Roukin, and Mr. Marengo (Bruce Myers), the often-bewildered owner of the establishment.
Blue flames from the ranges, and steam from pots adds to the realism and the tension, and as the disparate Europeans, with their own axes to grind, their own politics and philosophies to promote, build to a powerful climax.
The Kitchen, shot in performance by the National Theatre, plays today (Oct. 29) and next Saturday (Nov. 5) at 11 a.m. at the Tivoli