Irish Food review: Nostalgia is served

Dublin Fringe Festival: A palatable tasting menu but the scattered folk memories of Irish cuisine leave you hungry for substance


Rustic Stone restaurant, South Great George's Street
Restaurateur and theatre academic JP McMahon combines disciplines in this palatable piece of dinner theatre. Shared tables brim with the morsels of an Irish tasting menu: where staples like brown soda bread, bacon and cabbage, hang sangwiches and Tayto crisps evoke the modesty (and poverty) of Irish food culture, next to adventurously briny options of dried seaweed and fresh shellfish. Served with it, though, is a less digestible swirl of text comprising crowd-sourced food memories, divided between three hyperkinetic performers.

More litany than elucidation, the phrase salad of the text ("Grandmother's apple tart!" "White fish on a Friday!" "Catholics and Protestants!") conveys the naïve allegro of childhood. That this is also the tone of performance becomes as cloying as grandmother's blackberry jam. Director Romana Testasecca thickens the sense of Irish kitsch, in a space abounding with religious iconography, a surreal spread of sliced pan and piles of potatoes. But darker ruminations regarding famine mentality, domestic trauma and mental anguish feel as scattered as a garnish. The food is sustaining, but the play is a little undercooked.

Runs as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival until Wednesday, September 18th

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about theatre, television and other aspects of culture