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Kitchen


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A: Arnold Wesker Pf: 1959, London Pb: 1959; rev. 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Kitchen of a London restaurant, 1950s C: 18m, 12fThe action follows a day in the kitchen of the Tivoli, a busy London restaurant, owned by Mr Marango. The play begins with the night porter lighting the ovens, while staff from different backgrounds (German, French, Cypriot, Italian, Jewish, Irish, and English) get ready for the day's work. They argue, flirt, and joke together. One of the cooks Peter, a German, is having an affair with one of the waitresses Monique, but she is uncertain about leaving her husband. We then see the cooks preparing meals, and, as the first guests arrive for lunch, waitresses appearing from the unseen dining room with orders. The tempo and heat increase, until there is a frenzy of activity in the kitchen. Eventually there is a lull: the pace slackens, and the staff can relax for a while. A tramp cadging food provokes an argument, and an exhausted pregnant waitress has to be taken to hospital. Provoked by a trivial quarrel with a waitress, Peter vents all his pent-up frustration, smashing crockery and slashing his hands. Mr Marango, who considers himself a good employer, wonders why his staff would want to sabotage his establishment.

A: Arnold Wesker Pf: 1959, London Pb: 1959; rev. 1961 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Kitchen of a London restaurant, 1950s C: 18m, 12f

This play is remarkable in taking the realism of post-war British theatre towards almost total naturalism. Ideally to be played without an interval (although Wesker ‘recognizes the wish of theatre bars to make some money’), the author, who had himself worked as a pastry-cook, reproduces the frenetic activity of a typical restaurant kitchen with lifelike detail and without one's interest in the action ever flagging. The Kitchen may be regarded as a forerunner of television ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentaries.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Arnold Wesker (b. 1932) English dramatist


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