Chef: Come Dine With Us (Persona Inc & Atobiz Ltd)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre
September 9 – 16
South Korea’s “Chef: Come Dine with Us!” is crazy…. crazy AND crazy good. The madcappery is shaped around the loosest of plots manifested in the most manic of ways – two rival sous chefs are competing live on stage in the ultimate cooking show. Green Chef (Taemin Jung) and his rival Red Chef (Seongmin Oh) are in the culinary showdown with help from their motley crew of assistants, each infectiously enthusiastic in their entertainment.
From the simplicity of glow in the dark puppet fish to a simple rubber chicken, conceptually, no creative possibility is left untapped. The smorgasbord of segments provides treat after treat for audience members of all ages; the show includes slapstick, song, dance, beatboxing, breakdancing, acrobatics, opera, puppetry and plenty of laughs. Every aspect is slickly delivered, beginning from the flawless synchronicity of beatbox sound effects.
Indeed, “Chef: Come Dine With Us!” is an energetic as it is enigmatically absurd, thanks, in part, to a pumping feel-good soundtrack. Swift prop substitutions also add to the animated aesthetic of the experience and a kaleidoscope of colour palettes the stage through cartoon-like costumes.
So much happens in this 75-minute extravaganza, and every moment of it is captivating, meaning that when beatboxers, Rhythm Chef (Seongjun Park) and MC Chef (Daehan Wii) perform an amazing encore solo you won’t want things to end. It is appropriate that the show’s title/instruction ends with an exclamation mark, because the instances of audience interaction come not at request but instruction (#inagoodway). As is often the case, these ‘volunteers’ provide some of the show’s funniest moments, enhancing appreciation for the immensely talented ensemble cast. Don’t be offput by the mentions of audience interaction though; sit up the front and you will have prime position for the pillow fight, which has youngsters and adults alike in hysterics of laughter.
“Chef: Come Dine With Us!” really is, as advertised, an all-ages show, boisterously engaging from beginning to end. It is inspired escapism of the very best sort. It is random. It’s weird. It’s funny. It’s fun. And, as such, it represents everything there is to love about Brisfest. See it now or lament missing one of the most original shows to appear on the Brisbane stage.