13-14 January 2017
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
The Chef Show is written by Nick Ahad and stars Rohit Gokani and Kamal Kaan. The play is currently touring the North and we went to see the opening night of the 2017 tour at The Duke’s Lancaster.
Before we arrived we really weren’t sure what to expect from this show, a two man play about life in an Indian restaurant, with a real chef on stage cooking during the play; was it going to be a play or more of a cookery demonstration? The idea of the Chef Show came to Nick at a curry night in a village hall near his home and we felt the combination worked very well. The chef is cooking whilst the play carries on around him but at a couple of points in the play the dialogue stops and the chef talks about what he is cooking and we learn a little about the food and his own experiences of life in the restaurant trade.
There was a lovely atmosphere when we walked into The Round theatre, Rohit and Kamal were mingling with the audience and chatting, making everyone feel very welcome. The set was very simple but the presence and skill of the cast meant they needed few props.
Rohit plays Abdul, who emigrated to England with just £12 in his pocket and now owns a successful Indian restaurant in a small village in Yorkshire. His son, played by Kamal, thinks his dad, who isn’t in the best of health, should transfer the running of business over to him. What he doesn’t appreciate are the various relationships that have been built up with the locals over many years. The events of the play teach the young man that there is more to running a restaurant than just cooking and serving food.
The two actors play a great many roles, from other staff members to the various stereotypical customers (both male and female) switching instantly from one to another. The problem with actors playing multiple roles is that it can be confusing but the characterisation was so good that we were never unsure as to what was happening. Whilst dealing with some more serious themes like racism there is also plenty of humour, we especially liked the portrayal of the drunken hen party and the couple on their first date. Whilst the set was minimal, the sounds of cooking and the delicious aromas of spices really drew us into the story and placed us right into an Indian restaurant without using a single piece of flock wallpaper!
The chef changes with every venue, Nurrul from Lancaster’s Bombay Balti was our chef for the evening and his food was excellent, we tasted a vegetable bhuna during the interval and a chicken shatkora, a traditional Bengali dish, at the end of the night.
We really enjoyed this production at The Dukes, and would definitely recommend that you go and see the show on its 2017 tour. It’s a great night out, something a bit different from the norm and there’s even food provided!
The Chef Show is currently on tour, for details and tour dates click here.
The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1QE | 01524 598500