The Good Person Recipe: Your Ancestors Probably Didn’t Pass This One Down

Just put the damn teaspoon on the plate, man!  

You know when you’ve got a lazy Sunday all to yourself and you decide to experiment in the kitchen with the fettucine alfredo recipe your mum gave you, and you have no idea how it will turn out? That’s what The Good Person Recipe was like, with the appropriate analogy and all that.

The show had my interest right from its unusual name, to the quirky trailer released a few days before the premier night, and even the slightly enigmatic description on the event page. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and this was the show’s best quality.

Every line spoken, and every movement acted out was clearly considered carefully. We were shown a great picture of things we don’t really think about, but should. Everything a dragging, two-person 30 minute lacks, The Good Person Recipe delivered – both characters were well written and brilliantly acted out, making us question which character we identify with more. I found myself switching sides: between the jumpy Waitress’ textbook rules while pumping my fist to Neil’s speech about freedom and the right to choose. Regardless, this would have been unattainable if not for Antonia Yip and Nores Cerfeda’s polar but complementary performances.

All this, and further elements, added to the show’s unpredictability: from the moment of arrival – where audience members are seated in a plush, velvety waiting room (I felt like I was one of those ‘no-reservation-ers’ at a fancy restaurant) – to ‘recipes’ of good friends, good mothers and good fathers handed out to audience members. However, the most impressive feat was the range of genres packed in this short play. The show contained a mixed bag of suspense, drama, satire and even fantasy, which was done exceptionally through simple but effective lighting. The music, however, gave away the tone far too much and didn’t allow the audience to assess the moment themselves. The set itself was simple and intimate, performed on the Voltaire’s slightly elevated stage overlooking a closely-located audience.This allowed for long, profound moments of eye contact between the actors and the audience (seriously, props to the actors for maintaining so!)

There were some moments of repetition and superfluous dialogue that threatened a boring monologue style – the characters seemed to be switching between holding onto the ‘point’, and losing it – which could’ve been corrected with a more polished script. Nonetheless, the play successfully delivered a political message, without being overly political about it. It created a space for conversation: what does make us good people? You may spend the rest of your evening self-assessing, and possibly finding things out about yourself you may not like, but that’s what made this show great. Confronting, but necessary.

Sakina Aliakbar

The Good Person Recipe runs from the 22nd – 30th of September at Club Voltaire as part of the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival. 

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