Bangkok city is thriving with new shows and entertainment. It is a city that never sleeps but what has cooking got to do with entertainment in Bangkok? In the event that you do not already know which is the current rave in this hot city, the world class comedy entertainment which has won accolades of awards worldwide since their opening performance from Seoul, South Korea and around the world has made its debut in the great entertainment city of Bangkok, Thailand. This longest running and most successful comedy show from Korea since 1997 has taken the world by storm and never cease to amaze the crowds from any age. Cookin Nanta’s international debut was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1999, where it was presented with an award for best performance amidst a packed audience craving for more. The performance has been travelling around the world to 18 countries including the famous Broadway in New York and twice in Singapore during its world tour circuit. They are so hilariously funny and yet exciting that the performance never fails to draw bouts of laughter at every scene. Every performance is packed to a full house and Thaitourismguide is proud to present this new tour experience for entertainment in Bangkok in their growing portfolio of interesting places to visit in Thailand!
Originality and simplicity is the essence that has made this simple comedy sketch into a world acclaimed performance. With minimal stage props but depending on the comedy lines and facial expressions with hardly a sentenced dialogue attests to the skills of the performers. Surprisingly the only stage props are a kitchen and the most basic at that. That’s right, just a kitchen with a few cookers and plenty of disposable vegetables! Cookin’ Nanta is all about the kitchen and making music rolled with comedy is what makes it so funny and entertaining. This is a way to experience a Korean musical in Thailand with the entertaining “Samul Nori” traditional drum music in an ultra-modern presentation. This theatrical performance is easy to relate for audiences in general and all musical instruments are improvised from your normal kitchen utensils of kitchen knives, chopping boards and water canisters with a few hot firing stoves for added dramatic effect for an explosive performance.
Seated in the audience, be prepared to experience a total blackout in order to view the following acts. The big roll down screen tells you all about the story of the performance, which is about getting a few dishes ready in time for a wedding ceremony. Sounds simple and straight forward, but the next few instructions are rather funny as you wait for the show to start. Why Cookin’ Nanta is so original it is because there is no fancy costumes, five piece bands or fancy lighting with great backdrops. Everything is reliant on the hilarious script, skills of the performers with kitchen knives, cooking and musical sense.
What’s so special about a cooking performance, one might ask? The everyday routines of chefs in a kitchen are brought to life on stage when an order goes out to prepare a wedding banquet within a specific time limit. The haywire scene starts when the bad tempered manager of the restaurant decides to put his rather lazy bone and incompetent nephew as one of the kitchen helpers. This is when literally all hell in the kitchen breaks loose and you wonder if they have time to complete the tasks at hand. You actually experience the aromatic smells of the kitchen on stage with an explosive display of acrobatics, pantomime and exceptional culinary skills are displayed mixed with bouts of comedy sketches and magic tricks right before your eyes as they struggle to meet the timeline! Though it is a Korean theatrical performance, few words are spoken and even if done so it is in English so everything comes together well in this awesome slapstick comedy without the audience feeling left out due to the language barrier.
The show revolves around five main characters. There are four male actors and one female actress. Featured are the manager, his wily nephew, the head chef and his two assistant chefs. Aside from the task at hand there is rivalry between the male actors for the attention of the female actress and general idiotic sequences by the manager and his nephew. All this combines into a perfect element of comedy that also displays great acrobatic kitchen skills and it is all about a blur but bad tempered manager, his incompetent nephew and the reluctant chefs contributing to the chaos. The Korean meaning of the word “Nanta” is similar to reckless punching and boxing combines all this with drumming and cooking skills brings you an evening of brilliant performance with kitchen instruments acting as percussion band pieces, so expect lots of lively action with great music. Watch out for some great cutting, chopping and dicing sequences in this performance, you will not be disappointed.
The highlight of the entire performance is in the skills of the knives at use. These performers in Cookin Nanta make it seem so easy but it is definitely no child’s play. You can be assured that the performers of Cookin Nanta are very dedicated at their practice routines to perfect their art and skills with the various kitchen knives every day, so please do not try this at home! It takes anywhere from three months to a year to bring their skills up to par for a performance and very strict selection methods are at hand for aspiring would be performers looking to join the cast and crew.
Audience interaction is highly encouraged, be it to clap along or even to get a chance to go on stage to cook with the performers. A dull audience (if there is ever one!) get a face full of dirty looks from the manager which is in itself rather funny and keeps you laughing in stitches. You might find of fun and lucky to be selected to join in the cooking activity on stage for your two minutes of fame with an international performance.
Though this is a minimal vocabulary performance, audience will be delighted by the skill of the performers in banging the “drums” which includes a special water drum sequence that is quite mesmerizing. As the story unravels, you will see why it is so hard for them to make the scheduled time delivery of the wedding dinner dishes. You would love the character of the manager. Who may seem to be the least obvious but his facial expression of dirty looks and overall character is or can be considered the actual star of the show. Some may fancy the girl chef for her obvious skills with the knife or the well-built head chef for his cool demeanour but though the manager may seem blurish or at times sleazy, his character trait is when he does a quirky pose at the oddest times!
Once the action begins in the kitchen, be dazzled with the cutting and chopping skills of the performers, they are top rate cutting and chopping chefs! Expect flying vegetables and a very messy stage during this process but no worries, it is just part of the show. There is even a short sketch of the ever popular Gangnam style dance sequence in the show which always never fails to get the crowd tapping and clapping along, after all it is a Korean production.
All-in-all, this is one of those must see performances that is now playing it world performance in Bangkok. Tickets are available on sale from Thaitourismguide and be sure to book your tickets early as it is almost always a packed audience especially on weekend nights. As the theatre is located in the busy entertainment district of Rachada amidst all the night clubs, bars and popular discothèques in Bangkok, it makes for a great opportunity to check out this area after the performance. The Cookin Nanta show starts around 7.00pm so you might want to get there early and it is best to have an early meal before you do so as the show last for around an hour. Check with Thaitourismguide for transfer arrangements to Cookin Nanta if you need transport to get there and back. We know that when we did the first review it just wasn’t enough and we had to go another time just because it was worth watching a second and a third time around and each time it was as funny as every which had us laughing and in tears with some really serious laughter stitches on our sides, so do make it a point to visit the Cookin Nanta show when you are in Bangkok!