Presented in association with Bare Bawds
Written by Jeffrey Mayhew Directed by Guy Masterson
with Jeffrey Mayhew & Lynsey Tash
Premiered August 2006 at the Assembly Rooms Edinburgh
Take one hot-blooded Italian opera composer, the very best arias, countless love affairs re-visited, the scent of an Italian kitchen' Cooking with Puccini is a sexy feast of a chat show.
Guy Masterson (multiple Fringe First winner, Fringe Best Actor winner) directs Jeffrey Mayhew (Swift) as the world's most popular composer (fact!) The revelations come thick and fast as the master of Boheme, Butterfly, Turandot and Tosca is taken firmly to task. The loveable rogue's life bears our scrutiny in this visual (and tastier) version of Desert Island Discs. Fame, creativity and moral responsibility are all considered through the medium of high comedy as the wisecracking, womanising Puccini confronts his own persona.
So much more than a cooking show! In a tell-all interview that reveals much more than just the interviewee's favourite recipes, a portrait of the artist as composer, lover and chef emerges. Jeffrey Mayhew as Puccini and Lynsey Tash as the Maid rekindle Puccini's life. Lynsey Tash straddles the Maid's role of interviewer with the various tragic heroines in Puccini's life and his operas (he certainly had some appetite).
Jeffrey Mayhew and Guy Masterson again join forces after their success with Swift at 2005's Festival, to create possibly the sexiest and best-smelling show on the Fringe!
"Jeffrey Mayhew and Guy Masterson reunite after last year's successful Swift and delve into the world of opera and daytime television. Puccini (Mayhew) is a guest on Lynsey's (Lynsey Tash) modern cookery show where he uses his culinary skills to illustrate the inspiration for his operas. Along the way we scrutinise the composers charming rogue persona, his love of the female form and examine creativity, fame and morality. The modern setting (Puccini is northern) takes away nothing, simply wrapping facts in a witty delivery, stuffed with innuendo and interspersed with beautiful arias. Whether you know his work or not, it's an entertaining tale of a man who wrote music wonderfully and lived downright dastardly." (Lindsay Corr - The List 09/08/06)
Cooking With Puccini dresses itself as a cookery programme come chat show, it's a concept that works brilliantly. The stage is transformed into a television studio with an island for food preparation sandwiched between two interview chairs and a piano. The logo "LL" is placed on the back wall which one soon learns is the abbreviation for the shows name "Living With Lynsey". Lynsey Tash plays the part of the host and does so with an infectious smile and tremendous energy. She is also a talented soprano whose mischievous partnership with Puccini helps produce a thoroughly enjoyable production.
What makes the show particularly delightful is Jeffrey Mayhew's execution of Puccini. Written not as an Italian but instead as a Yorkshireman this Puccini brings his own brand of northern humour to the stage. With wife jokes and sexual quips in all but a few of his exchanges the entertainment show that is "LL" is exactly that. Mayhew is a natural performer and brings his gifted but just as promiscuous character to life excellently. As well as being effortlessly engaging he has a good singing voice and is as equally at ease behind the piano as he is in the kitchen.
With some simple but effective direction this production offers an eclectic mix of music, humour, dance, song and food. It is hugely entertaining and funny throughout. Moreover if one splashes out on a fifty pence programme the recipes from the show are inside and one can continue Cooking With Puccini at home. (Nathan Witts 17 August 2006 - EdinburghGuide.com)
Jeffrey Mayhew not only portrays Puccini on stage, but also researched and wrote the piece. Every quote heard is taken from letters and diaries, the wealth of material gleaned from his research is not fully covered in the show. He has developed his characters with northern accents and although this and the studio setting are fiction you are completely drawn into the illusion. Mayhew plays the piano sings, answers the probing personal questions, cooks and virtually makes love to every woman in the audience. His portrayal of the character is totally believable...This show is totally enjoyable, whilst being educational and entertaining, It's beautifully written & performed" (One-4-Review)