Review: Free Lunch with the StenchWench

Director, producer and filmmaker Paul Sng reviews Catherine Hoffman’s Free Lunch with the StenchWench prior to it’s arrival at Camden People’s Theatre this Thursday.

Don’t forget to book your tickets to see this one-woman flea circus here.

A disgusted Airbnb guest departing her flea-infested home in the middle of the night inspired Catherine Hoffman to conceive Free Lunch with the StenchWench, a solo piece of performance art that explores the protagonist’s shame resulting from poverty and class inequality. Hoffman’s personal and honest account of growing up in poverty explores the uncomfortable reality of being poor in an increasingly narcissistic society. As she puts herself through one humiliating ordeal after another (at one point removing her top to breastfeed a rat), we share her shame, whether due to empathy as a result of similar experiences, or the sense of guilt for society’s collective failure to protect the most vulnerable. Free Lunch with the StenchWench is an immersive and visceral piece of theatre, in which Hoffman reflects a twisted desire to fit in and belong in an arts scene dominated by well-meaning middle class liberals. It’s deliberately difficult to watch, and forces the audience to confront the the cruel reality of class prejudice in austerity Britain.

– Paul Sng, Filmmaker (Sleaford Mods – Invisible BritainDispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle)