Serving up a charming and cultural delight

By Christine Young

Saltwater is an innovative one-woman show from Jamie Lewis who gives the audience a taste of Singaporean cuisine and culture. In 2012, Lewis’s The Stream/ The Boat/The Shore/The Bridge/, created with Dan Koop & Co., received a Green Room Award for Outstanding Production – Creative Agency for Audiences.


This is not surprising.

Saltwater is a gentle and thoughtful theatre experience like no other. Fifteen audience members, guests really, are invited to prepare and eat a traditional Eurasian meal with Lewis. Master Chef this ain’t, so don’t worry, guests are only asked to perform a simple task. In fact, the Saltwater concept and purpose are a refreshing antithesis to the hectic, competitive nature of reality TV cooking shows.

Saltwater is designed to engage all of our senses for a truly visceral encounter. This is a chance to stop, look and listen and enjoy being in the present moment. Lewis creates a relaxed atmosphere, from the background music to subtle decorations, and due to her relaxed style of speaking. Nothing seems particularly contrived. Most of it is, of course. But that’s a mark of outstanding theatre: making the planned look and feel natural.

Lewis encourages guests to talk about their relationship with cooking and culture, though you aren’t forced to speak or interact. It’s not group therapy. Observing and letting everything flow over you is perfectly fine. Conversations lead into invisible segues for autobiographical monologues from Lewis. She covers the experience of growing up in Singapore, under the shadow of her mother’s cooking and kitchen, which expands into contemplation of her parents’ courting days and 35-year marriage.

Lewis also talks about her three-year marriage to an Australian lad, starting with the safe territory of dinner parties, then moving into how newly weds negotiate marriage through love, death, triumphs and differences. These are not simply put down to cultural differences. Lewis recognises that our relationships are informed by all of our relationship experiences from the day we take a breath.

I felt privileged to be part of Saltwater. Lewis is a gracious, friendly and frank host who gives you a peek inside her private world in a way that makes you feel right at home.

Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Dates: Until July 12, 2015
Tickets: $30 Full / $25 Conc (plus booking fee) Saltwater / Letters Home Double Bill – purchase a ticket to both shows for only $50 full price or $40 concession.

Image by Sarah Walker