I was fortunate enough to win tickets to see Protein Dance’s May Contain Food at The Place thanks to Culture Whisper! This was a show I was really keen to see and had rave reviews, and I also had promised my non-dancer friend that I’d take her to see some dance, so this was my perfect opportunity.
Dance really has the potential to be accessible to all audiences and companies like Protein really cement this fact with their mass appeal and the innovative ways in which they combine immersive theatre, music and dance into one clever performance package – May Contain Food was no exception and was even fully captioned for those who have restricted hearing.
As we got our tickets and went in, the Robin Howard Dance Theatre was unrecognisable. I’ve already seen about 4 or 5 shows at The Place this year, and instead of the raked seating I’m used to being greeted with, the space was laid out as a restaurant with tables full of food. Carl, a ‘waiter’, seated us and gave us menus and a glass of water and immersed us fully into the piece from the moment we entered the room.
The 90 minutes that followed were 4 courses of satire, witty commentary and memories of food and most importantly a reminder not to take mealtimes so seriously. It began with Carl’s mindful eating, where we were asked to love, kiss and listen to our cherry tomatoes before collectively eating them and ‘masticating precisely 21 times’ to get the fullest flavour – a clear mockery of those who take their fine dining experiences more seriously than most. There was also a parody of the organic/vegan/clean-eating shopper with a performer reduced to tears as she lamented her love for kale and a mock religious ceremony in which a performer stood at a microwave altar gave thanks for the food they were to receive – thanks to god, thanks to the supermarket chains and thanks to mum for visiting Aldi in her Citroen Picasso.
It was a humorous reflection of ourselves as a collective society and how we view what we put in our mouths and the rituals that surround it. Some of us are guilty of pretentious food snobbery and others are just as guilty from claiming our granny’s jam tarts are better than any others, it’s the same rose tinted lens from which we view our own eating habits as better than the next persons. We are all guilty of over thinking the process of eating, judging others for their culinary choices and hyperbolising everything we cook with menus chock full of adjectives.
It was an insanely witty evening of incredibly dexterous dancers, talented vocalists and all round engaging performers who doubled as our waiters and entertainment in equally effective measure. It was an entirely different dance experience than anything I’ve seen before and has made me want to go out and find more innovative and immersive dance theatre that I’m sure exists out there somewhere!