Reviewer: Laura Maley
An evening with Chopped and Fried’s Much Ado About Noshing is a whistle-stop tour of words about Jews and food. Based on a haimishe (translates loosely as ‘homely’) recipe the evening includes songs, poems and stories, with a strong bias towards comedy. The hour-long show at the Kings Arms, Salford, is part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, running at eight venues until 31 July.
It’s an unusual show, and exactly the kind of thing you would expect to find in a varied fringe festival programme. Our charming host flies solo; his partner off at a Paul Simon concert in London. Now, when a performer doesn’t make it to his own show, the audience would naturally grow concerned about the show they are about to see. However, while two performers (and a piano!) should naturally enrich a piece, the evening remains very enjoyable.
Much Ado About Noshing will hold many points of recognition for Jewish audience members, but even for non-Jews with a grasp as basic as Woody Allen movies, bagels and latkes will enjoy without the depth of knowledge and a lifetime of experience.
Readings begin with a nod to the amount of Jewish food critics, and in particular a recent Giles Coren column about David Cameron going to a north London Jewish restaurant. What makes Much Ado About Noshing such a fun success is the clever variety of material – from these newspaper columns to limericks about Kafka, an old film clip of a band playing ‘Dunking Bagels’. The highlights are two hilarious extracts from Jewish New Yorker writer and essayist Shalom Auslander’s book Foreskin’s Lament, about the writer’s childhood – which manage to also educate about the food blessings in Judaism. A story about a kugel, by Polish-born writer Isaac Bashevis Singer is also thoroughly entertaining in a mad nursery story kind of way.
Much Ado About Noshing is a very welcome change from the standard theatre fare or stand-up comedy: a night of variety; Jewishness, food and comedy. Perhaps a little more of the historical findings of the duo’s research, some shorter passages from novels/memoirs and the addition of music – as well as a little less reliance on the texts themselves – would create an even more enjoyable show.