Art for Eating is a discreet highlight of the Latitude festival. Tucked away on the Forest Fringe stage, the show is based on a simple conceit; a couple wish to know if it is possible to recreate the best meal they ever had, enjoyed on their honeymoon in China. Two volunteers in the audience are called upon to eat noodles, drink beer and meticulously recreate the movements of a conversation held some years ago.
It must be said, some of the performance’s success can be credited to the two volunteers themselves. They are fed some rather opaque prompts via placards (‘Tell that Awful Joke You Love’, ‘Discuss Your Family’) and prove incredibly game and frequently witty. Such extensive and intense audience participation is inherently risky, but a natural chemistry evolves between the playmakers and volunteers, each subtly conveying their own interpretations of intimacy of what constitutes a ‘moment’. As a passive audience member, you feel as if you are being invited to share something rather special.
Ultimately, one of the most interesting features of the show is noticing the disjunction between the placard prompts and the scene being played out. In this way, the play makes interesting comments on the futility of spelling out or providing a blueprint for a shared moment. While the conversation can be tightly orchestrated and prescribed, the actual meaning or magic (if you’ll permit the cliche) is contained somewhere beyond words. 4/5
Review written by Sean Gilbert.
Art for Eating was shown at this year’s Latitude festival from Thursday 14th until Sunday 17th July. For more information on Latitude, visit here…