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Review: Pass the Spoon

Michael Cox finds much to like in a production that finished all too soon.

Pass the Spoon is one of the most ludicrous ideas for a production I have ever seen. To explain the plot would just serve up how preposterous the whole thing is and probably turn people off from seeing it—thus doing it a great injustice, because it is also one of the funniest, well-made productions I’ve experienced in a long time.

David Shrigley, David Fennessy and Nicholas Bone should be commended for daring to take the concept of turning a cookery show into a ‘sort-of opera’ and running rampant. Shrigley’s design concepts belong in a Looney Tunes cartoon, many times raising smiles just by their appearances, and his text is consistently clever. Fennessy’s music is equally inventive, not only paralleling the text in playfulness but finding fun ways of punctuating everything. Director Bone takes these outlandish ideas and not only makes coherent staging out of it but also comes up with many visual gags that linger long past the end.

Of course, one cannot leave out both ensembles.

The acting company of six are uniformly great, with each performer embracing the outlandish scenario. Martin McCormick’s Banana and Gavin Mitchell’s Mr Egg (not to mention his other character, who appears at the end) brought constant laughter to the audience, and Peter Van Hulle’s priest-like Butcher proves memorable, as does Tobias Wilson’s puppetry skills as multiple characters. But one has to hand it to Pauline Knowles and Stewart Cairns as June Spoon and Philip Fork, for they not only manage to hold the production as the co-hosts and have a great repartee together but manage to score most of the biggest laughs.

Equally great is the work of Red Note Ensemble. Conducted by Garry Walker, the ensemble sit onstage, dressed as chefs and occasionally react as the events unfold. They play conventional instruments but also use such oddball instruments like balloons and knives, resulting in a sound that is both tuneful and original.

If I have a complaint, it is this: it was on for too short of a time. A three-day run in only one venue certainly felt like a cheat with all of the time, energy and (to be frank) money that has gone into it all. I certainly hope that there are plans for this to live on as it certainly deserves a much longer run with a larger audience. As it stands, Pass the Spoon was a brilliant flash in the pan—easily one of the best productions to grace a stage in Scotland this year.

Pass the Spoon’s run has completed.

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Magnetic North on December 15, 2011, at 8.48pm

Glad you enjoyed the show Michael - the good news is that it is going to be on again in 2012. Its part of the Traverse's new season (on sale now) and will also play at London's Southbank Centre in May.

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