Cook Your Life – A One Woman Show

Although I have been going to the theatre for many, many years it is hard to believe that I’ve never seen a one-man or one woman show. Yesterday evening that all changed.

I went out to Richmond to the Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival where I saw a one-woman show called “Cook Your Life”.

May May Chan
May May Chan

Let me go straight to the bottom line right away, it was an incredible performance.

Yes, many times I felt like Bill Murray in the movie “Lost in Translation” – remember the scene in that movie where the Japanese speaking director would verbally rip into another member of the production team who would then turn to Bill Murray’s character and say something like, “Look more directly into the camera.”

Murray, with a puzzled look on his face asked, “Is that all he said?”

Last night there were times when I felt like that. The long streams of Cantonese dialogue by May May (May May Chan, the one woman tour de force behind this show is from Hong Kong) would be summarized onto the sur-title screens into something as simple as “she will regret this decision.”

I couldn’t understand how these long and very animated speeches by Chan could be distilled down to 4, 5 or six words and yet when I asked my Cantonese speaking friend who attended the show with me if that was an accurate depiction of what was going on, she said in “essence yes.”

The really cool thing about the show for me was that although it was basically all done in Cantonese and I couldn’t understand 99.99% of what was being said (I clearly heard her say “whiskey” at least twice!) I did understand the story.

I am not going to retell the story or the plot but for me the truly beautiful thing about this show was Chan’s ability to change from one character to another in the time that she could walk across the stage.

She enters the theater as an over-the-top, loud, and uncontrollable tour de force. She continues in this role for sometime and then she “invites” her friends on to the stage.

May May Chan 2
May May Chan 2

With the addition of a coat and hat she suddenly becomes a woman falling in love and then being heartbroken and then turning into a drunken mess.

When she drops the hat and coat, she is instantly back to being the loud and boisterous May May Chan, host of “Cook Your Life” and best friend to her friend in need.

I completely loved this show.

When “Cook Your Life” ended we had a brief intermission before the second one-man show, “MeChat” began.

“MeChat” was some kind of a strange and quite puzzling performance by one man on the stage with a fake massive cell phone on his shoulder.

Unlike “Cook Your Life” I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on in “MeChat”. Other than the fact that he was constantly on the phone talking, messaging, doing a Facebook and FaceTime thing. I think at some point he died and then travelled into some quasi-cyber-heaven-like-world where he was able to communicate with people through his mobile phone.

However, I could be totally wrong.

Whatever happened to him, it got very surreal and it was quite spooky and although I didn’t really know what was going on I was totally intrigued by the strange music and the dancing and movement on the stage.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation, however I thoroughly enjoyed both shows. Yes, I did enjoy “Cook Your Life” more so than “MeChat” however, both shows are very much worth seeing.

The Pacific Gateway Theatre Festival is only on for a few more days so if you want to see this show or other shows that are part of the festival, act sooner rather than later.

To learn more about the Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival you can visit their website.