A dish consisting of rice, coconut milk and kidney beans, amongst other seasonings, rice and peas forms the base of many Caribbean meals, a hearty, starchy meal option that has been enjoyed throughout the centuries. As we know, food brings communities together, an incredibly important part of culture that nourishes and preserves cultural history. An exploration of the stories meals can tell, Mia Jerome presents dining experience Rice & Peas, a thoughtful, immersive exploration of cultural heritage, migration, race, family and mental health.
It’s post WWII and the effort to rebuild after this world altering event begins, the lack of jobs within the Caribbean and the need for workers in the UK realities that needed resolving. The famous Empire Windrush integral to the migration journey of many as it travelled the world to transport prospective civilians to the UK. Rice & Peas spanning between 1948 Grenada to 1970s Britain, over 20 years post war. Married couple Figgy (Damian Lynch) and Edith (Nicole Dayes) are forced to live apart as Figgy sets off for the UK in hopes of creating a better life for the family, an unravelling of family truths and battles with state of mind starts to ensue.
Jerome writes a heart-warming multi-generational script, one that ties the family’s Grenadan roots to their newly established British present, witty interactions between Figgy and Edith drawing on the couple’s warm, unbreakable bond, interactions between the couple’s children, Michael, Marcus and Marion, young adults tasked with the responsibility of managing the family business played by Shaquille Jack, Omar Austin and Khrystalle Pitterson contribute a vital layer to the production, the first generation of their family to live in the UK, they grapple the process of assimilation and hostility faced within their current climate.
Jerome directs a slick, entertaining 90 minute dining experience as scenes run like clockwork with meals served throughout, a 3-course meal curated fantastically by chef Jon Bentham – timed just right, we’re made privy to this family’s vulnerabilies as they run the family ‘Fig & Oil’ Grenadan restaurant. Family drama and customer service running side by side, we diners connect to the cast. There’s something magnetic about being in a room full of people post lockdown, and something that makes this experience that much more resonant. Restaurants such as these set up as a reminder of home and to connect with fellow migrants of the same community as well as the local community. A clever, meticulously thought out experience with a great atmosphere established, I highly recommend!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Rice & Peas was shown from Thursday 28th until Saturday 30th April 2022 at Metal Culture (Chalkwell) as part of Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s current season. To find out more about the production, visit here…
Four our interview with writer and director Mia Jerome, visit here…