The Old Red Lion Theatre is an intimate setting to stage a human flesh burger BBQ. Sarah Kosar’s Mumburger pulls out all the sensory stops to explore familial grief in the aftermath of an unexpected death. From the pungent blow-torching of numerous small beef burgers throughout the show, to visceral vomiting, and lip-synced scenes of Steve Martin in Father of The Bride, Mumburger makes a surreal and yet sympathetic attempt to understand the central relationship of father/daughter mourners Hugh and Tiffany.
After the tragic car accident of her mother, Tiffany struggles to communicate with her father about the funeral, until a mysterious and dripping package of meat arrives ex-machina. It transpires that her mum, a committed vegan and proponent of ‘waste-not-want-not’ (which once led to using the family bunny as a source of protein), has recycled her flesh into nutritious burger patties for them to eat. In a fast-food transubstantiation, she wants to be eaten and remembered in a ‘digestive memorial’. What follows is an amusing contradiction between a realistic portrayal of a modern family in mourning and a far fetched cannibalistic undercurrent.
Rosie Wyatt gives an impassioned, emotional performance as Tiffany. She expresses the frustrations of a 25 year old still living at home well, playing an outraged, uptight millennial against Andrew Frame’s hippy, nonplussed father. The skill of Tommo Fowler’s direction can be felt during the emotional outbursts of the show, but there seems to be no release or change of pitch for the narratively quieter moments – the characters seem constantly at the heights of their emotional range, which can wear thin.
Kosar weaves in some wonderful observations of grief in the modern age – from condolences sent via Facebook, invitations ordered from Snappy Snaps, to a google doc to organise everything. The mess that an unexpected death can bring is viscerally brought to life with mustard, ketchup, bits of burger and bread littering Charlotte Henery’s clean and minimal set. Overall, it’s an an original and eccentric device but can feel a little overemphasised for shock value.
Mumburger will be continuing its run at The Old Red Lion until 22 July. You can book your tickets with the Box Office on 0844 412 4307 or via their website.
CAST AND CREATIVE
PERFORMED BY ROSIE WYATT AND ANDREW FRAME
WRITTEN BY SARAH KOSAR
DIRECTED BY TOMMO FOWLER
DESIGNED BY CHARLOTTE HENERY
LIGHTING BY ROBBIE BUTLER
SOUND BY ODINN ORN HILMARSSON
FIGHT DIRECTION BY AILIN CONANT
PRODUCED BY HANNAH TOOKEY
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