Pimp My Plate #26 – Boston, MA

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This month PIMP MY PLATE visits the east coast of the USA to see if Boston can pimp my plate. With AUD$19 currently equivalent to USD$14.50 excluding tips and taxes I’ve scrapped the usual budget in my search for flavour.

 

‘Ask yourself, what does food mean to you?’

Cuisine and Confessions

It’s Friday night in Boston, and as I take my seat, a muscular young man wearing an apron and clutching a notepad sweeps past me to ask the women near me what food they like to eat, and to enquire about their love life.

A bubbly blonde in denim shorts skips through the room, offering up a bowl of gummy bears. I’m hungry, so I take one.

Several metres away there’s a man throwing potatoes at people – what a circus!

I’m in a theatre, not a restaurant, and no, it’s not a theatre restaurant – although the audience is promised plates of food at the end of the performance.

Tonight I’ve bought tickets to the unique theatre production CUISINES & CONFESSIONS (USD$40 BosTix/half price).

For several days this week I walked by their promotional poster in Copley Plaza, that promises ‘a literal theatrical feast!’ How could I resist?

The theatrical production of CUISINES & CONFESSIONS was inspired by the book Young and Hungry by Suzanne Taylor, which is a cookbook in the form of a memoir, and originally published in Boston.

This production is performed by The 7 Fingers troupe and includes sound, smell, touch, and taste. The 7 Fingers are known for their innovative acrobatic and choreographic ‘prowess’.

It’s the last week of the American premiere at the Cutler Majestic Theater after playing in Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Montreal, and Moscow.

Now I’m seated inside the Cutler Majestic Theater I see the theatre lives up to its majestic name. Its interior glows with the elegance of its 1903 ‘Beaux Arts’ style and embellishment, designed by architect John Galen Howard.

Around me it’s a chatty crowd. The vibe is a mix of a creative chaos and anticipation as members of The 7 Fingers run down the aisles, pitch an occasional potato into the air as if it’s a baseball, and scribble down the answers to love life questions as the audience is quizzed by the man in the apron with the notepad.

I don’t know where to look, because I want to look everywhere – all at once.

There’s a large kitchen construction onstage, with a working stove. We’re invited to ‘Come for the circus, stay for the banana bread!’

As the lights dim and the audience becomes quiet, we watch a series of personal and universal food stories unfold.

For most of us, food is a marker of special moments, emotions, memories, or confession.

Tonight the stage becomes a page in a human recipe book, scribbled with words of love, humour, guilt, and even persecution.

The fluid choreography of the acrobatics, aerial sequences, dance, and the juggling underlining these stories, is as spellbinding as it is energetic.

In one dance sequence white flour is thrown into the air. It takes shape then dissipates, in much the same way human emotions can.

The onstage kitchen is a genius design of interconnecting wooden boxes and frames that create a variety of theatrical and acrobatic opportunities.

Table and chair formations become platforms to sit on, or dance on, and square wooden frames become aerobic hoops to dive through. Giant whisks are juggled, a girl dangles in mid-air from a rope of tea towels, a knife is throw at a blindfolded man, and a tall vertical pole provides a linear defiance of gravity.

Meanwhile, the vegetable pasta and the banana bread is cooking in the onstage oven.

This theatre production is an immersive journey for all our senses, as we sit in awe of the incredible timing, skill, and physical ability of the cast – and the spell cast by the aroma of food.

And at the end of that journey there was food!

We queued down the theatre aisles for a tasting plate of pasta with vegetables – tasty – and a piece of moist banana bread, still warm from the oven.

CUISINES & CONFESSIONS is a production that reminds you of the power and importance of the arts to share stories using a combination of physical skill, humour, and emotion. Some stories reflect our own, but the ones that add most value, in my opinion, are those that give us new understanding of the experiences of others.

Although the season has just ended in Boston I’m sure the production will keep touring, so if you have the chance to see it, don’t hesitate. You can also find some of the acrobatic feats of The 7 Fingers troupe on YouTube.

The creation and staging of Cuisine & Confessions is by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila. The entire cast includes Sidney Iking Bateman, Melvin Diggs, Mishannock Ferrero, Anna Kichtchenko, Camille Legris, Heloise Bourgeois, Nella Niva, Emile Pineault, Anna Kachalova, Matias Plaul, William Underwood, and Pablo Pramparo.

RATED: Fabulous!  FOOD: 5/5
VALUE: 6/5 Yes!   ATMOS: 5/5   VIBE:  Passionate, exciting, inspiring, and unique 
‘CUISINES & CONFESSIONS’ – Cutler Majestic Theater 219 Tremont St, Boston, MA

*A special thank you to James Harriman for allowing me to use his photos

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