Charlotte Crawshaw reviews FEAST, the first play by London-based Romanian theatre maker Olivia Negrean, making its York debut after being performed across Europe. Directed by Philip Parr of Parrabola.
Friday 10th saw the opening of Feast as part of the York International Shakespeare Festival. This show was entirely made from the amalgamation of Shakespeare’s women, their stories and their attitudes towards each other. In this show, these fictional women are thrown together from their different timelines, countries and lives to make a meal together – live on stage. Easily one of the most notable and impressive aspects of this performance is that the cooking itself was real, as you walked up the stairs into the Friargate Theatre the smell of the food cooking drifted down to welcome you. And as the show came to a close, the players dished out the meal for the audience to enjoy – a really unique innovation on a play, something I personally had never seen before.
The brilliance of this show lay within the players themselves and the ways in which they interacted so seamlessly. In particular, the tension between Lady Macbeth and Lady Anne was clear, yet tastefully subtle throughout the performance. The entire structure of their discussion, as they were portrayed as a group of gossiping women was really useful, since it further expanded the audiences understanding of these women.
A lot of Shakespeare’s women are secondary to the main plot, or their pasts aren’t explored in the same way as their male counterparts might be and this was something which was explored in this performance. The background of each women was told one at a time, and a further insight into their attitudes towards what happened in their particular play was really interesting to see for the first time.
Aside from the food, the other most stand-out part of this performance was the way that it clearly broke the fourth wall and challenged the endings that their characters suffered from. The performance saw each character break from their story and begin to want to challenge the way that they were seen in their stories – each was offered the chance to go back and change history to create balance, rather than keep the male-centric stories that everyone is used to.
Overall, Feast was definitely what could be defined as a one-of-a-kind experience; I had never seen a performance like it, and doubt I will again.
Click here for a video intoduction of the play.
Charlotte is reviewing shows as part of our Shakespeare Blogging project. If you would like to review York International Shakespeare Festival events and productions over the rest of this week, click here for details on how to request complimentary review tickets.