The performance is comprised of four short plays, each inspired by one of four tastes: Salty, bitter, savoury and sweet. Food and cooking are involved in each play in some way, and the dramas unfold in a kitchen at Ralph Thornton Centre.
The concept was conceived of by Natalie Kaye, who commissioned the shorts. Each play has a different playwright, director and cast. Each story is introduced and woven together by the character of the waiter.
The performance opens with Siren by Natalie Kaye, a fantastical monologue about a scullery maid, turned pirate, turned vengeful siren. Sea salt is a recurring metaphor in this savage nautical adventure rooted in the classic betrayal and revenge genre.
Siren is followed by Bitter Hearts by Laurence Braun-Woodbury. It is also a monologue, about mental health, breakups, and running behind on dinner party cooking. The protagonist learns he does not have the stomach for his culinary revenge.
Next up is Savour by Aaliya Alibhai, wherein a besotted fairy undertakes to entice a mortal woman with the delights of fairy land. Her plan works out well for everyone.
Concluding with dessert, A Trifle by Nina Kaye positions the audience as spectators during an intimate moment between very saccharine lovebirds having a post coital sweet treat. It transpires that all that sugar is masking the chalky taste of insecurity and doubt.
One of the benefits of a shorts program is that if one play is not your cup of tea, another one likely will be. In this production, most patrons will likely find something to suit their taste.
My companion and I both had difficulty with Siren as an opening piece. Food had nothing to do with the story, and the usage of food in the play felt shoehorned in. The story included sexual violence that was off-putting in an opening piece. The monologue was delivered in a declamatory Shakespearean style that was jarring in the intimate venue. We were left feeling unsure about exactly what we were in for.
From there, the production was a theatrical feast. I could relate to Bitter Heart‘s premise of overly ambitious, behind schedule, mental illness fueled dinner party prep. I could also relate to Naseem Reesha’s performance of a love affair with Malbec. He left me curious about what the dinner party would be like and ready for the main course.
Savour introduced some dialog and comedy to the show and was a breath of fresh air after the heavier fare of the two preceeding pieces. Kelly Marie McKenna and Mladen Obradovic were positively winsome as a pair of fairy cooks attempting to whisk some risotto — and a bored, rich recent divorcee — off to fairy land. Andrea Irwin played the archetype of the rich bitch with warmth and complexity. I was rooting for her and McKenna all the way.
As the title suggests, A Trifle was light and frothy with layers. Jess Wareing and Maggie Cook were hilarious in the roles of so-cute-you-want-to-gag couple Peach and Plum. I was definitely feeling the late night fight fueled by too little sleep, too much sugar and booze, and deep-seated wounds.
Queer themes that connected the pieces were a fortuitous accident of blind casting. On the whole, Kitchen Sink Drama is a highly engaging and well crafted piece. It is definitely worth taking advantage of this opportunity to see a Fringe show in Leslieville for the first time.
- Kitchen Sink Drama plays at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre. (765 Queen St. E.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Sexual content; Audience participation.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible (Note: the elevator was not working at this performance).
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 7:30 pm
- Thursday July 5th, 7:30 pm
- Friday July 6th, 7:30 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 7:30 pm
- Monday July 9th, 7:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 7:30 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 7:30 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 7:30 pm
- Friday July 13th, 7:30 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 7:30 pm
Photo of Mladen Obradović and Kelly Marie McKenna in Kitchen Sink Dramas by Nina Kaye