One of the poorest productions I have seen at the NT; and I have seen many. Contrived, self regarding, action for the sake of it, some of the acting is abysmal and altogether getting carried away with itself based within a very good set. And don't get me started on the acoustics. There were too many empty seats after the interval. I'm afraid someone has to say the king has no clothes. Absolutely no comparison with the excellent Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court. - chris bulford
05 Nov 11
Thanks to Masterchef we think we know what it's like to work in a professional kitchen where "cooking doesn't get tougher than this". Arnold Wesker really did know about life in a 1950s restaurant because he worked in one so it's safe to assume that his play has the stamp of authority. Given the lack of health & safety or basic hygiene it's a miracle that staff or customers survived the experience. The first half is choreographed rather than directed as the kitchen builds towards the barely organised chaos of lunch service. Movement Director Aline David is presumably due a lot of the credit although there are a few too many Katie Mitchell moments for my taste. The second half sees some of the cooks (not chefs) reflecting on their lives and this is the only part of the play with something close to a narrative. There is a sort of climax as the highly strung German cook finally tips over the edge but The Kitchen is a slice of life drama which seems to lack a coherent message. - David Baxter
12 Oct 11
The set is impressive but the play is boring even with a talented cast who put in a lot of effort. I noticed quite a few empty seats after the interval. I never give up but it did not get much better in part two and wish I had gone home too. - ils
05 Oct 11
Some of us go back a lot longer than 17 years and although past productions have always packed a punch, this is SENSATIONAL. Brilliant direction (back on form at last) and ensemble playing.
Tom Brooke for actor of the year across the board please. - coral
29 Sep 11
Seventeen years is a long time in theatre-going and my reaction to this 1957 Arnold Wesker play is very different today to when I first saw it at the Royal Court in 1994. Somehow it has lost its impact as a play, even if it still impresses as ¡®spectacle¡¯ in Bijan Sheibani¡¯s production, which fills the Olivier stage like few productions do.
It¡¯s really a ¡®slice of life¡¯ on stage. Many of the characters have their own stories, but there isn¡¯t an overall story as such. It¡¯s a stage picture of life in a busy kitchen in the late 50¡äs with snatches of social history ¨C but not in enough depth to make it a ¡®state of the nation¡¯ play. It¡¯s a very realistic portrait of work and it captures post-war attitudes and habits, but it doesn¡¯t fully satisfy. It takes a while to warm up and the second act is fatally flawed by a dull first half. It would make a better one-acter with 10 minutes cut from the beginning of the first act and 20 from the beginning of the second.
Giles Cadle¡¯s design is one of the best I have seen in the Olivier, though ¨C a completely realistic restaurant kitchen with fine attention to detail. The ensemble is excellent, with Tom Brook standing out as Peter and lovely cameos from Tricia Kelly as Bertha and Ian Burfield as Max. The balletic scenes, where everyone seems to move as one, are stunning too. It¡¯s hard to fault the production, but I¡¯m afraid it doesn¡¯t paper over the cracks in the play. It¡¯s stylish and stylised but it doesn¡¯t grab you and keep you for two hours.
What I thought was a classic appears now to be a play of its time. - Gareth James
17 Sep 11
Having enjoyed Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court in July immensely, I found The Kitchen dated and, sadly, dull. So much potential with so many characters, but only Tom Brooke rose to the occasion. - Julie Dangoor
14 Sep 11
Terrific, rousing, well-staged. The moving around of the 30 players around the kitchen in the first act is a remarkable feat. Tom Brooke (he of the hollow eyes) is haunting in the second half of this play (as he also was recently in "I Am the Wind" at the Young Vic) as the one person in the kitchen who dreams of profoundly more from life than the kitchen can possibly provide. It seems that existential angst is a real forte for Brooke, and for Wesker too, whose play holds up wonderfully 50 years after it was written. - Steve
10 Sep 11
One of the most exciting directional experiences I've ever witnessed. - Enjoy
10 Sep 11
I simply loved The Kitchen. Certainly a play of two halves!! A must see. - Harri
08 Sep 11
This is one of the best things I have seen for a really long time. The cast are all phenomenal and together they have created nothing short of a masterpiece.
A must see for everyone!!! - Claire
08 Sep 11
The staging, direction & cast are great...but the play is a real bore... - Timsy
07 Sep 11
I thought this was absolutely first class. The starter is an excellent, clever set; the main course superb direction; and the dessert was the powerful acting. There wasn't a duff performance in the 32 strong cast. Three Michelin stars! - addicted to theatre
Whatsonstage.com - Discount London theatre tickets, theatre news and reviews, Theatre videos, Theatre discussion, National Theatre Listings. Covering London's West End, all of Theatreland and all UK theatre. The best
for London Theatre Ticket Discounts.