Storytelling and food are longstanding partners in crime (the indestructible prosperity of the cinema snack bar is but one mark of this idyllic union), however we haven’t seen them come together quite like this before.

A coproduction between Performance 4a and Griffin Theatre Company and part of the Sydney Festival programme, The Serpent’s Table is a truly unusual (and delicious!) theatre experience.

Five Asian-Australian storytellers spin a yarn while presenting a dish that inspired the tale. The performance features Red Lantern’s Pauline Nguyen (and her bitter melon soup), journalist turned balcony gardener and author Indira Naidoo, writer and comedian Jennifer Wong, actor and director Darren Yap, and physical theatre performer Anna Yen. It’s wonderful to see such a diverse group of people on one stage.

The production is a provocative, humorous and diverse picture of the Asian Australian experience, led by Annette Shun Wah, who also staged beautiful storytelling shows Stories Then & Now and Stories East & West. She says:

“I wanted to tap into that same, intimate, personal treasure trove of stories, but incorporate more performance. I’ve done a lot of research and writing about food and family history before and I know how talking about food can immediately open people up to the most personal memories and experiences. And the idea of including some food in the performance, allows us to make it a truly sensual experience.”

Pauline Nguyen's 'Bittermelons' in The Serpent's Table Image by Brett Boardman
Pauline Nguyen’s ‘Bittermelons’ in The Serpent’s Table
Image by Brett Boardman

Unfortunately, the intimate nature of the show limited the audience to 30 and the tickets are already sold out. However, we are told the production team are keen to tour and eventually bring it back to Sydney for another…bite!

We’ll also be keeping an eye out for Performance 4a’s next show Murakami, a story of Japanese photographer who documented Broome and Darwin from 1897 until his unjust internment as an enemy alien during the war.

Head to Performance 4a to stay up to date.

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