Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen is set in 1950s London.
In the kitchen of an enormous West End restaurant, the orders are piling up: a post-war feast of soup, fish, cutlets, omelettes and fruit flans.
Thrown together by their work, chefs, waitresses and porters from across Europe – English, Irish, German, Jewish – argue and flirt as they race to keep up. Peter, a high-spirited young cook, seems to thrive on the pressure. In between preparing dishes, he manages to strike up an affair with married waitress Monique, the whole time dreaming of a better life. But in the all-consuming clamour of the kitchen, nothing is far from the brink of collapse.
The Kitchen puts the workplace centre stage in a blackly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed, when work threatens to define who we are.
Wesker’s extraordinary play premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries. The Kitchen is directed by Bijan Sheibani (Greenland, Our Class).
For more about The Kitchen at the National Theatre read the First Night Feature.