Photos – Clare Hawley

There’s a lot to digest in Sabrina Mahfouz’s Chef, a menu of monologue morsels given marvellous mouth feel by solo performer, Alice Birbara.

The play’s opening is a peach, literally, with Birbara’s Chef waxing lyrical about the perfectness of the furry skinned fruit, a perfection unalloyed by preparation, save perhaps by soaking in its own juices.

Sabrina Mahfouz’s script tends to do just that, her words nourished by a self- saucing lyricism, a culinary lingo deliciously delivered by the self -sourcing, soul searching Chef.

After a disarmingly honest yet artfully articulated entrée regarding the elementary aspects of culinary craft and its eventual alimentary outcome, Chef presents us with course after course of discovery and disclosure.

She shares with us the sheer joy the kitchen brings her, the comfort in creation and cleanliness, and how baking sparked her desire, the alchemy of sugar and flour and eggs that conjure the magic of a cake.

Simmering surprise and boiling emotions are revealed as the ingredients of the Chef’s life are itemised, chopped, diced, sliced and sautéed, served on a plate of paternal abuse garnished by guilt, with a drizzle of dreams and a trimming of hopes. 

It’s a recipe for success and this production, directed by Victor Kalka, delivers its just desserts with a combination of introspective candour and extroverted appeal.

On a simple but striking set of tiles and strip lighting, Birbara works the tricky traverse stage with a physicality fizzing with flavours and a vocal virtuosity full of zest.

Played within a hectic hour, Chef is a theatrical dish full of bite.

Event details

Virginia Plain Theatre in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company presents
CHEF
by Sabrina Mahfouz 

Director Victor Kalka

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre | 244-246 William St, Potts Point NSW
Dates: 25 January - 4 February 2023
Tickets: $45 – $30
Bookings: www.kingsxtheatre.com

Most read Sydney reviews

  • Wicked The Musical
    The staging is spectacular, and this production has somehow managed to add additional layers of texture and style into the design that refreshes the experience.
  • Home Country + The One | Little Cup Theatre Productions
    Two new works presented as a double feature provide somewhat of a highlight in the current Sydney Fringe Festival.
  • Pride in Prejudice | The Wharf Revue
    Impressive impersonations, lacerating lyrics, remastered melodies all make for a mindful entertainment.
  • Bark of Millions | Taylor Mac
    There are some stunning moments of yearning, some haunting harmony, some bold and brassy vaudeville, and all anchored in the language of protest and defiance.
  • Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill | Belvoir
    From the end of her first song, summoning the spirit of Holiday, spotlit and with exquisite poise, dramatic pause and phenomenal phrasing, there was a palpable feeling of the audience restraining a desire to leap to their feet in rapturous applause.

More from this author