The Work: Plays

The Kitchen

1957, (12w 18m)


Set in the basement kitchen of a large restaurant, thirty chefs, waitresses, and kitchen porters, slowly begin the day preparing to serve lunch. The central story tells of a frustrated love affair between a high-spirited, young, German chef, PETER, and a married English waitress, MONIQUE.

PART ONE slowly builds to a frenzy of serving. PART TWO is a lyrical period - the kitchen porters and chefs linger after serving lunch, and talk about their dreams of a better life. In PART THREE everyone returns for the slower evening service during which PETER, finally turned down by MONIQUE, goes berserk and smashes the gas leads to the ovens.

The proprietor, bewildered by PETER'S violence, the nature of which he cannot understand, asks his workers what more is there to life than work, money and food.


"… now listen to this, he says 'Did you go on that peace march yesterday?' So I says, yes, I did go on that peace march yesterday. So then he turns round to me and he says, 'You know what? A bomb should have been dropped on the lot of them! It's a pity', he says, 'that they had children with them 'cos a bomb should have been dropped on the lot!' And you know what was upsetting him? The march was holding up the traffic, the buses couldn't move so fast …And you should have seen the hate in his eyes, as if I'd murdered his child…"


Flashing, illuminating, moving, funny, passionate, authentic…
Bernard Levin, Daily Express

…achieves something that few playwrights have ever attempted; it dramatizes work …rising at the end of the first half to a climactic lunch-hour frenzy that is the fullest theatrical expression I have ever seen of the laws of supply and demand.
Kenneth Tynan, The Observer

... a masterpiece of modern realism ... beautifully choreographed ... a balletic feast for the eyes.
Tim Auld, The Sunday Telegraph