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Print Version

written by Tza Drake
directed by Paul McLaughlin

at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
21 May 2013

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 28 May 2013
originally published in The Dominion Post

Knowing your subject matter is an essential ingredient of any successful playwright. And after many years working in restaurants, Tza Drake certainly has amassed enough material for his play My Kitchen Kills. 

However, what is not so evident is his ability as a playwright to then turn this into a cohesive and properly structured piece of dramatic theatre. He certainly has an ear for the type of quick fire banter that must go on in restaurants kitchens, though his script is almost too littered with overly clever witty and not so witty one liners. And the premise of the play, moving scenes backwards to reconstruct the various scenarios behind the opening scene of ‘whodunit', is a clever one.

However, the sharp repartee is at the expense of character development and as a consequence the play becomes somewhat superficial and un-engaging. This is also not helped by the production not knowing the style it is supposed to be played as. At times it's farce and at others there are long and dramatic meaningful pauses, making the play devoid of any dramatic tension normally associated with thrillers, which the play is labelled as. 

Nevertheless, under the direction of Paul McLaughlin, the cast give it their all and play out the scenes as best they can with lots of manic energy and, at times, over acting.

As Chef, Francis Biggs is your typical Gordon Ramsay type chef, while Kenneth Gaffney makes a good nervous, put-upon kitchen hand Sam. As the stereotypical gay waiter Steff, Alex Greig tries to bring something original to the role while Jean Sergent, as the token female, plays the other waiter, Kirsty, with her usual vigour and energy.

Michael Ness as Barry the restaurant owner, Mohamed Abdilahi as the Cleaner and Stefan Alderson as the Cop all add in their own way to bringing the play together, and although the script needs a lot more work done on it, what is currently presented is mildly amusing and entertaining.
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe