In the kitchen of the Golden Dragon restaurant and takeaway, a crisis is unfolding. While the customers concentrate on making their choices from the extensive menu, behind the scenes where the food is prepared, a young Chinese kitchen-hand is experiencing agonising toothache. Going to the dentist is out of the question, because the boy is an illegal immigrant; someone who, because he is not seen, simply doesn't exist. Not to the authorities, and not to those who use the restaurant but never see beyond the numbered dishes.
Roland Schimmelpfennig's slow burn of a play offers another way of seeing. The first thing you notice ? though it is set in and around a Chinese restaurant ? is that there are no Asian actors involved. But then this is a production in which the old play the young, and one species plays another, and gender is entirely fluid, too. Over 90 minutes, the play acts like a busy spider weaving a web of connections that spread right across the globe. This is a world where a beautiful giant cricket is exploited by an ant, a tooth lands in a bowl of soup, a dead boy is carried thousands of miles home on a river, and the bustle of everyday life disguises darker truths that only gradually start to be reflected back to us through the action. The beauty of the piece, and Ramin Gray's production, is that it reveals itself quietly and gradually.
The formality of Schimmelpfennig's writing style, which includes stage directions and descriptions of dishes on the menu, takes a bit of getting used to, but this is an unflashy and often quietly surprising piece of theatre that treats a familiar subject in a new way. If, like a bowl of deceptively spicy soup, it only offers a real punch in the final few mouthfuls, its intelligence and thoughtfulness is apparent, not least in the actors' performances.