Along with sex, the need for nourishment is probably one of the most visceral and basic human instincts.  In today’s (12 December 2013) Daily Mail  Naomi Wolf writes about how our commodified and vicarious online experiences of sex via internet porn are affecting our hardwiring and having damaging physiological consequences.

After watching a performance of Gastronauts by writers April De Angelis and Nessah Muthy at the Royal Court Theatre last week, I wonder if our experience of food is not on a similar trajectory. Billed as ‘a theatre adventure with music and food’, this energetic and completely engaging piece of work, matches its entertainment value with some hard facts about how we produce, purchase and consume food today.

Via a series of brilliantly acted vignettes and musical performance, a tight knit ensemble composed of Andy Clark, Imogen Doel, Nathaniel Martello-White and Justine Mitchell, and the hugely engaging musical director Alasdair Macrae, make you laugh, touch your heart and despair at the irony of an industry where globally 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted, while 870 million people are chronically undernourished.

An innovative and unconventional theatrical production, Gastronauts takes you on a journey through childhood memory, corporate gluttony, food fetishism, surprising taste experiences and a joyous scene of a chap being brought to orgasm seated at a restaurant table. It does not preach, but rather shares the apparent bewilderment of the authors at how the simple act of fuelling ourselves has been transformed into a tyranny for both those who consume and are consumed.

In a remarkably moving part of the piece, we are reminded that food satisfies another human instinct apart from hunger. We use food to celebrate, console and commemorate our emotions and the most important milestones in our lives.

The theme of the January issue of Her Edit is food and you can read more about the authors of Gastronauts on 2 January. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen it, then I highly recommend you go. It’s an extremely thought-provoking and enjoyable experience, but one which does leave a slightly unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Jayne Phenton

Gastronauts is at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square,  London until 21 December.

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