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The Kitchen by Roysten Abel @ Sydney Festival - Theatre Review

Home > Sydney > Music | Festivals | Concerts | Classical Music | Theatre
Published January 26th 2015
Let the sound of the divine drum enchant your senses
Director Roysten Abel again mesmerizes audience with his new theatrical presentation, 'The Kitchen'. The drumming of the traditional percussion instrument 'mizhavu' accompanied by aromatic smells of the 'payasam' cooking in the center of the stage, brings a unique angle to this production. There is no exchange of words but a strong communication through hearing, smell, visually and finally through taste.

The Kitchen Roysten Abel
The Kitchen Photo credit: Sydney Festival website


Roysten Abel is no stranger to the festival. In 2010, he presented The Manganiyar Seduction, where 43 Rajasthani musicians seated in a magic box structure, spellbound the audience with their instruments and classical music.

The Kitchen Roysten Abel
Mandakini Goswami and Dilip Shankar of The Kitchen


In this presentation, Abel brings an instrument from the state in India where he was born, Kerala. The Mizhavu, is a sacred musical instrument. It is a copper (or traditionally clay) pot with a narrow neck covered with a stretched leather cloth. It is solely played with hands. It is used to accompany the holy ritualistic temple performance of Koodiyattam.

The stage setting for this performance is exceptional. A large 3 tier structure that is slightly curved, seats the 12 mizhavu players and their instruments. Spotlights highlight the agile hands of the 12 mizhavu players.

The 2 lead actors take center stage with their payasam ingredients. Payasam is a traditional south indian sweet dish made with milk. As the show starts they start making the payasam with Ghee (clarified butted) and basmati rice, simmered in 50 litres of milk. The smell of the rice cooking in ghee spreads through the theatre. As the milk boils, the mizhavu sound surrounds the theatre as if casting a spell. With the beating of the mizhavu the couple flirts, loves, flights and stirs the payasam in harmony.

Watch a teaser of 'The Kitchen' in the video below


In probably a theatre first, the payasam that is cooked on stage in 75 minutes is served to the departing audience by the 2 actors themselves. As the audience leaves with the resonating sounds of the mizhavu, their tastes buds are treated with the hot payasam.

The Kitchen is headed to the Auckland Arts festival in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2015.
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Where: Seymour Centre Sydney
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Well written article!
by sindh (score: 0|6) 964 days ago
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