In the glimmering first moments, when the light grows up and around the actors, a feeling is established. It feels like something secret, or hidden. An animal patiently waiting to pounce. The feeling of the sky just before the first clap of thunder breaks silence. Is a quiet hum that nags and repeats. It’s the feel of the past – a bruise you just can’t shake.

At the base of Maslow’s hierarchy is a list of basic things to survive, and food is listed as one. And although one of many, this need is one which has the most variation – time, frequency, quantity, quality, social setting. Food is found in rituals, but is also one of the most frequent rituals in itself. It can be used as a symbol of homecoming, of wealth or sacrifice, marks celebration or mourning. In my life, I have witnessed food used as an emotional barometer, and a psychological one – indicating control/loss of control, a means by which to soothe or comfort, a means of displaying affection, or a means of courtship, of asserting status, of political leanings and social awareness. For me personally, I understand food as a social act, and for me, in my moments of extreme stress or self-doubt, there is nothing as satisfying as baking my own bread. Apply all you know and feel about food – making it, eating it, using it, buying it…

She dances as all those girls do – twisting easilly, loose shoulders and slinking arms, lost in the music or the moment or the sensation of it all. The dance becomes something else and our eyes flick and scan, seeing a dance and then, seeing something more, something sinister.

The other, in the kitchen, thumps life into a dumb chunk of dough. She sprinkles flour like confetti – soft like heavy snow, then thuds. And Whacks. And pushes. She’s hard at it.

Nancy (Emma Jackson) sings. Elma (Kate Box) barks.

Two women, unwittingly joined by a childhood, a deceased mother and a take away store.

The story is simple – bound together by their past, they are now in control of their future as the Take Away store of their chiko roll childhood is transformed into a slower food restaurant. And the decision demands a kitchen hand, enter charming nomadic Hakan (Fayssal Bazzi) who sings and chops and awkwardly finds his way into a job.

Steve Rodger’s script deserves more than a few wry puns, riffing on it’s title. The language is simple, the observations keen and surprising. There is a poetic which is located in familiar vernacular, and Rodgers has mastered this fine balance between functional speech and evocative imagery. He has expanded naturalism into an unnaturalism, wherein the performers are sometimes speaking their actions, as though they are having an out of body experience. Ted Hughes once said of Plaths poetry, “Her attitude to her verse was artisan like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy.” And I’ve thought of this as I left the theatre, as I believe that Rodger has not only made a table, but it is beautifully crafted, like that of furniture made out of found wood, and beautiful hewn and polished and fitted. Food is a beautiful piece of writing. And at times it feels as though we could be watching a piece of short fiction being read to us – and perhaps sometimes we are, but the magic of this production comes in the synergy of the writing intersecting with movement.

Kate Champion has found balance to Rodger’s script – she shows us the private lives of the characters beyond their verbal declarations, confessions or demands, and shows us the human within the words. Within a moment, an act of delight/freedom/wonder becomes an actor of violence/yearning/fear/anger. In three moves (and fully clothed) she has orchestrated one of the most romantic sex scenes I have ever witnessed. This balance between Rodger’s keen ear for the music of his script and Champion’s elegant and forceful and genuinely fascinating movement: make this production visually and aurally sing.

There are some productions which just work – when all comes into perfect singing synergy. And this just may be the hit of Belvoir’s 2012 season. If you can get a ticket, do.

And if you can’t, take the night off, and make something beautiful for your loved one/s. Below is a pic of my latest loaf… and a recipe… because you might like to give it a go yourself…

Food Soup Bread
1/4 cup milk
5 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons butter
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour
Olive Oil

Warm up the bowl you are going to mix the ingredient in (just let hot water sit in it for a bit)
Then, mix up the yeast with 1 cup of warm water.
Melt the butter in the microwave, then add it, the milk, the sugar, and the salt to the yeast liquid and stir it
Then add two cups of flour to the mix
Then add the flour about 1/4 cup at a time, Keep stirring and adding flour until the dough is still slightly sticky, but it doesn’t stick to your hands in any significant way. Also, it should largely clean the sides of the bowl, leaving just a thin layer of flour.

Kneading. Yes. You need to knead.
Don your favourite apron.
Prepare to look like a well-groomed 18th Century German composer. You’re going to get powdery.
Flour the benchtop.
Then grab the dough ball out of the bowl, slap it down on the table, and start beating on it. Do this for ten minutes. Just take the dough, punch it flat, then fold it back up into a ball again, and repeat several times.
This is particularly good if you have suffered a few slings and arrows.

When ten minutes are up, shape it into a ball then coat the inside of the bowl lightly with oil and/or melted butter then put the ball of dough inside the bowl.

Put a cloth over the bowl and sit it somewhere fairly warm for an hour.
I’m generally impatient so I sit the bowl on the grill door of my oven (whilst it’s on, with the oven door open) with a towel over it (like some sort of sick eucalyptus inhaling child)
And that takes about 30 mins.

It should be roughly double the size that it was before.

Punch the dough down (three or four good whacks will cause it to shrink back down to normal), then lay the dough out on the floured area and spread it out in a rectangle shape, with one side being roughly the length of the bread tin.

Then, roll it up! The roll should be roughly the same size as the bread tin.
Tuck the ends of the roll underneath, with the “under” side being where the seam is.

Lightly brush with olive oil and/or butter.
Cover that loaf up with the towel, put it back where it was before,(on the grill door of your oven) and wait. Clean up the mess you’ve made. I suggest Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” as a great song to clean up to.

Put that loaf in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for thirty minutes.
It’ll brown and you’ll know it’s done. Pull it out and immediately remove it from the tin to cool.
Let it cool down completely before slicing.

With butter. And tomato soup. Or fresh tomatoes sprinkled with posh flakey salt.
And watch a movie… maybe something French? Amelie? Or Highlander? (the pictured loaf above was my accompaniment to “THE ARTIST” the loaf pictured below was my first one this year and was my accompaniment to THE HIGHLANDER)