1950s London. In the kitchen of an enormous West End restaurant, the orders are piling up: a post-war feast of soup, fish, cutlets, omelettes and fruit flans.
`Fifteen hundred customers an' half of them eating fish. I had to start work on a Friday.'
Thrown together by their work, chefs, waitresses and porters from across Europe - English, Irish, German, Jewish - argue and flirt as they race to keep up. Peter, a high-spirited young cook, seems to thrive on the pressure. In between preparing dishes, he manages to strike up an affair with married waitress Monique, the whole time dreaming of a better life. But in the all-consuming clamour of the kitchen, nothing is far from the brink of collapse.
`We all said we wouldn't last the day, but tell me - what is there a man can't get used to?'
Arnold Wesker's extraordinary play premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries. The Kitchen puts the workplace centre stage in a blackly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed, when work threatens to define who we are.