BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

21/05/2013 - 21/05/2013

Production Details

My Kitchen Kills will have you hooked from the moment you sit down.

A Guy Richie-esque whodunnit, My Kitchen Kills has been written by real life chef Tza Drake and is directed by Paul McLaughlin (HOTEL, The Blackening, SALON). 

This culinary black comedy features a stunning cast of seasoned professionals and fresh new talent.

My Kitchen Kills takes you inside the kitchen to meet the Stef and Sam, into what will pan out to be one wildest and most stressful weekends they have ever had.

Gambling debts, a mysterious death, a cover up and a cop – sounds like a recipe for disaster? Or an opportunity knocking?

This is a hilarious peek into hospitality at its most gritty. Not to be missed!

This is the second play by Tza Drake, his first; Once Upon a Time in Aro Valley was a 2009 Fringe sellout.   

BATS Out of Site
Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 May
at 8pm. 

Steff: Alex Greig
Chef: Francis Biggs
Sam: Kenneth Gaffney
Kirsty: Jean Sergent
Barry: Michael Ness
Cleaner: Mohamed Abdilahi
Cop: Stefan Alderson

Stage Manager : Renee Prichard
LX: Ashlyn Smith
Set Design: Dennis Hearfield
Producer: Claire Medcalf
Poster design by Billy Wilson 

Script needs a little more cooking time

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 28th May 2013

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.


Make a comment

Undercooked and lacking in complexity

Review by John Smythe 22nd May 2013

The title tells us someone dies and within the first few minutes the hints are very strong as to who that might be. No surprises there, except the programme credits an actor as playing that character. The other questions are as you’d expect: who, why, how and when? 

The kitchen in question is in a restaurant. Denis Hearfield’s set features a prep bench up-stage centre, a set restaurant table down right, and office desk stage left. And down in one corner is an easel menu which tracks the time structure – backwards.

On Friday morning everyone is behaving strangely, suspiciously and unsubtly with it. It’s hard to get a hang of the style of Tza Drake’s My Kitchen Kills, directed by Paul McLaughlin. Is this tending towards farce, broad comedy, a genre send-up …?

The focus is squarely on plot being played out with not very much depth of character. We get their circumstances in ways that go to possible motive for the yet-to-be-declared murder but their characteristics are superficial rather than deeply psychological, as may befit a good murder mystery.

So the actors are more, well, acting than being. They are utensils or additives rather than flesh-and-blood ingredients as they stir and fold according to Drake’s ‘whodunnit’ recipe, adding touches of colour and texture where possible.

As Chef, Francis Biggs chops a mean carrot and does sardonic with bitters quite tastily. His protégé, Sam – Kenneth Gaffney – offers a dash of sweetness with his eagerness to please then adds an after-taste of self-preservative.

The head waiter, Steff, is Alex Greig’s fifth role in as many months so far this year. This time he plays dispassionately amoral, if not sociopathic; apparently sapped of profound emotion. Or that’s how it seems at first. He’s saucy, as needed, but rather bland with it.

Jean Sergent’s Kirsty, the waitress, brings a bit more zest to her emotions, what with having financial and therefore landlord problems and solving – or rather avoiding them – them with drink. Either Kirsty has the least to hide or she is over-compensating.

Their boss, the owner, is Barry, and Michael Ness lays his unpleasantness out in ungarnished strips: take it or leave it.

Then there’s the cleaner, played by Mohamed Abdilahi, with a keen alertness and a piquant preciseness with grammar: about the only real surprise in the play, which itself is surprising in a genre that usually involves a good twist or three.

Also lacking is a level of tension that could earn it the sobriquet ‘thriller’. There are predicaments, sure, and when the detective – Stefan Alderson – arrives the proverbial eggshells are in evidence.

But – despite the odd flutter at the TAB – there are no high emotional stakes to engage our concern, and nowhere much to invest our empathy.

To be fair, the way the scenes track back in time does raise questions that do get answered as we find out why people have done as they did. But without emotional engagement it becomes a rather academic exercise. And there is a place for that within this genre, except that’s where the testing of intellect comes in and there’s not much brain-challenge to be had on the menu here either.

Sometimes strange uses of the space see any imagined geography of an actual restaurant dispensed with, placing the actors and furniture nowhere else within our willing-to-be-suspended disbelief but on the Bats stage.

On opening night, then, it was undercooked but it could well be that as the season progresses the ingredients will prove to have greater potential to produce a more profoundly pleasing repast. Or maybe the recipe itself needs more work, to fully explore the necessary complexity of the genre.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council