When Geoff Sobelle brought HOME to the EIF in 2018, he filled the King’s Theatre with a true-to-size framework of a house. This year, he’s gone the opposite direction; for a show about food, very little of it makes an appearance. Billed as an ‘intimate dinner party’, the show is set around a massive table – those who’ve paid a little extra sit around it. The rest of the audience looms in the seats behind, watching the wine bottles being silently passed around the tablecloth.
The diners order off a menu, and Sobelle scampers off to fulfil their culinary desires with deft feats of illusion. But the plates are quickly cleared away in order to reveal the show’s true set piece: massive canvas of soil, upon which Sobelle demonstrates his mastery of staging and design. Bison migrate across the fertile fields; then industrialisation arrives, first pulling wheat from the land, then skyscrapers. It’s undoubtedly a technical marvel, stunningly done and brilliantly executed.
Yet there’s something missing. Yes, food systems and the agricultural revolution are important. But when you think about food, you also think about… food. You think about taste and memory, whether it was delicious and how eating it made you feel. What FOOD dishes up is the concept of food within a cultural, sensorial and, ultimately, emotional vacuum. The presentation may be beautiful, but ultimately the appetite is not satisfied.