A little over a year ago, I was reviewing Annie McKenzie’s solo show Happiness is a Cup of Tea at the 2016 VAULT Festival. Since then, life’s changed a bit for Annie; a few months later, she was performing for a very different audience on her way to becoming a semi-finalist in the 2016 series of BBC’s MasterChef. And now she’s bringing together her two passions in new project Scripts for Supper, which launches in Battersea next week.
“Scripts for Supper is a theatrical dining experience that combines food and theatre in the only way I know how – by feeding people, getting them drunk and telling them a good story,” she explains. “Be that Shakespeare, Chekhov, Lorca or Beckett – it’d be the same, but we choose our food, plays and vices as carefully as possible.”
For her first production, Annie’s chosen one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, Twelfth Night. The reason? “‘If music be the food of love, play on!’ Need I say more?”
The play will be accompanied by a five-course dinner, with a cocktail and canapés upon arrival, and a menu specially designed for the occasion. “It’s inspired by Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, but has me written all over it,” says Annie. “I cook food that people want to eat. Things that make people go: YUM! You can expect cockles, brown shrimps, pork, potatoes, rhubarb, cheese, cream, booze, booze, booze and a lot more besides! Oh – and did I mention booze?”
The project is a collaboration with Battersea’s London Cooking Project: “My lovely friends Billy and Jack of MasterChef 2016 final fame have done a few fabulous evenings at The London Cooking Project, which is how we came to be put in touch with them,” explains Annie. “If I’m honest though, I think it was pure luck and a bit of serendipity that led to us teaming up. I can’t tell you how wonderful Emma and the team at LDN Cooking Project are. Please look on their website to find out about all the incredible community projects that they’re up to.”
The idea to bring together food and theatre has been brewing for some time, and Annie’s excited about the prospect of combining two of her favourite things. “I had the idea that I wanted to create something with food and theatre ever since I was on MasterChef – it just took a long time to develop it and make it into a reality. It means a huge amount, of course. I’m giving everything I have to this project and am working with people I love dearly. It might be weird not to be ‘acting’ – but I am, in a way… I’m still on show… well, my food is.
“There have been many wonderful projects recently around theatre and food – Faulty Towers, Les Enfants Terribles – let’s just hope my idea can be a contender.”
Catch Scripts For Supper Present… A Retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the London Cooking Project on 4th March.