The Iranian Feast, Farnham Maltings on tour

IPOE-QA-with-Mick-StrobelTHE latest tour by Farnham Maltings, following its back-by-popular-demand version of It’s a Wonderful Life, is The Iranian Feast, and it packed Win­frith Newburgh Hall with an audience drawn by the previous show and keen to try some food with their theatre.

The touring company has perfected a style that merges documentary with entertainment, exposing rural audiences to intimate everyday details of life in other countries.

It started with The Polish Play back in 2008, and now The Iranian Feast (which had its first outing in 2013) subtly weaves a story into what seems like a random and sometimes hesitant impromptu party. A few members of the audience are dragooned in as characters in the unfolding plot, and while we all enjoy tea and a delicious soup, the tension rises.

Mick Strobel, here Abbas whose concerns for his family are in conflict with his secret work, returns to the role of over-protective father that he played in The Polish Play.

Natalia Campbell is the wife and mother skilled in cooking, negotiating and keeping the fragile peace between her husband and her much more modern daughter (Hanna Paybarah).

Touring The Iranian Feast is a labour of love for the actors and their stage manager Jo Rossen. Their van must carry tables, cooking equipment, and a host of props that make each village hall into a convincing Teheran cafe.

And convincing it is. The ever-present threat of discovery soon seeps into the audience, bringing the living reality of life in a country in conflict  to peaceful English villages.

All that and it’s fun and the food is delicious.

Kevin Dyer has written another compelling play for the company, and it’s well worth a visit.


The tour continues in Somerset at  Porlock Village Hall on Thursday 17th March and Lang­ford Budville Jubilee Hall on 18th, returning to Dorset at Broadmayne Village Hall, on Saturday 19th March, another Artsreach date following the one at Winfrith Newburgh.

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