FESTIVAL REVIEW: May Contain Food is ‘bonkers but brilliant’

May Contain Food, Protein Dance ANL-160531-093002001
May Contain Food, Protein Dance ANL-160531-093002001
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May Contain Food, Protein Dance

Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds

Thursday, May 26

‘Bonkers but brilliant’ is the only way I can describe May Contain Food, by the innovative Protein dance company.

Billed as an ‘immersive experience of indulgence, nostalgia and mischief’, I did not expect to find myself rolling a cherry tomato around my face, letting it rest in my eye socket before holding it near my ear to listen to its flesh . . . but more on that later.

We arrived at a dimly lit Athenaeum to see tables around the edge of the room: some scattered with fruit and vegetables, some with (fake) animal pelts and ours with vintage china.

Our server Sonya handed us her tasting menu. We had just about digested that our first course was ‘a rustic, sun-ripened, hand-reared, hand-picked taste explosion’ before Sonya said she had to check something with her boss and dashed off – along with the seven other members of the company. So began 100 minutes of evocative and thought-provoking acapella song and contemporary dance.

Based on the theme of humans’ relationship with food, we witnessed a sticky ginger cake being baked, heard a witty grace which included thanks to the lorry driver for driving our food to Aldi and other well-known supermarket outlets, saw children (adult audience members) being force fed and the touching relationship with food of a dementia patient.

But back to that cherry tomato. After ‘listening to its flesh’ we were instructed to pop it in our mouth and hold it there before chewing 21 times to fully appreciate its texture and flavour. And yes, it was a delicious as the rest of the performance.

Camille Berriman