May Contain Food @ The Place Review

Writing this after having days to digest, I can honestly say that I still can’t put my finger on what to the label this piece. Is it dance? Is it opera? Is it a dinner? One thing is for certain – it is one hell of a sensory journey. Immersive even.

Protein 'May Contain Food' at Dance East.


Upon entering we are asked to wait for our ‘server.’ Here is where we met the lovely Louise Sofield. “Are you vegetarians?” she asks and then coaxes us to a table decorated with fruit and veg (some edible, some faux). Each table has a different design. To our left is Sonya Culling Ford with a table full of baking, which the audience partake in assisting with just before dessert. To the left is pasta, followed by feathers and fur.

To transport a show into the manufacturing of a dinner party is utter brilliance. My favourite moment is what I will refer to as the ‘meat song.’ On the left and the right of the tables we find kitchen- esque tiled walls. One performer moves across them sheepishly, being followed by a second singing the word ‘meat’ on repeat in a mock operatic style. As she mimics the first performers moves we see the smearing of a red substance from her jacket. She is followed by a third. It is primal, animalistic and absurd, but captivating none the less.

From the very outset Protein Dance have us questioning our relationship with food. It is especially apparent in a dance sequence where we see half of the performers remove the top half of their clothes and parade around in pairs, one of which always having a body part on the platter – ready to be served. Don’t get me wrong, this production isn’t all preach and no fun. There is something incredibly sexual and sensual about it – especially in the way in which Carl Harrison have us interacting with the guests at our table. The initial nibble we are given is a tomato, only to be eaten after sensually rubbing across our own faces (eyes closed!) The second involves rice and force feeding a partner you may or may not know. I won’t say anyone at fear of ruining the surprise, but I will include a snippet of our particular “tasting menu.”

“Tasting Menu
by Louise

To Start
‘Still Life’
Juicy, bite-sized scarlet fruit globes of happiness
Created by the Renoir of nature’s harvest

The Main
‘Heaven Sent’
Covering the worlds circumference, from Persia to China, the rice fields of Japan and South Korea Fluffy white clouds of carbohydrate heaven
with a hint of colourful, toasted seeds
(contains sesame seeds)

The Green
‘Sturdy, Cute & Curly’
Crispy, frilly winter brassica, earthy but with a cute and curly demeanour
Gt your taste buds ready for theta healthy feeling
(contains smoked paprika)

To End
‘Ginger Provocateur’
A Fiery,sultry seduction through sublime Indian summers and the dark molasses of Madagascar, reaching a sweet sticky climax
(contains eggs, gluten, dairy, sugar)”

Each performer is utterly faultless. That being said, I must give extra credit to Donna Lennard for her sheer resilience and commitment to her performance. Mid way through the show she encounters two terribly tricky audience members – after playing the game of ‘your food is an airplane, open wide’ with the first audience member, she finds herself with a second refusing (which leads to her eating it herself) and the third took to force feeding her off of her own fork. She handles this marvellously, moments before launching in to the next song. This is an example of the fantastic standard of performances Protein give, it also shows how wonderfully unpredictable their performances can be. Each table getting a different experience and a somewhat personalised show. Foodies, dancers, lovers of the arts… I can’t urge you to see this piece enough! 5/5


Review written by Chloé Doherty.

May Contain Food is currently showing at The Place until Saturday 7th May. For more information on the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop