A Korean physical theatre / comedy performance involving cooking? Does that sound like Nanta? Well, yes. We loved Nanta when it came to Kingston and were happy to see what this seemingly very similar show had to offer. Judging by the poster, it certainly had a thoroughly ripped male torso to entice you.
The scenario has two rival chefs, assisted by comic sous-chefs, competing to prepare the best dishes for members of the audience. Of course, no popular Korean stage show is complete without dragging members of the audience onto the stage to participate, and this was no exception. The Edinburgh audience members are very game, and their participation was very well managed by the performers and thoroughly entertaining for the rest of the audience who were nevertheless glad not to be in the spotlight.
Some differences? While Nanta’s musical vocabulary is Samulnori, Chef relies on some expert beat-boxing, perhaps making the show more international. Chef also has a beautiful underwater sequence in which shoals of fish swim elegantly backwards and forwards across a pitch-black stage, the effect produced by the actors’ white gloves illuminated by ultraviolet light.
The comedy and action was hard to fault throughout. The only disappointment was that the hunky sous-chef didn’t get his kit off earlier. We had to wait until the encores for him to execute some impressive topless b-boy moves, but it was a moment worth waiting for. Without question, a five star show. And I didn’t even mention the communal pillow fight with pizza dough.