Theatrical cooking skills

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From Mr Richard Eyre

Sir: If Maggie Brown aspires to be a restaurant critic as well as a theatre reviewer, she must polish her skills of observation (Diary, 3 May). Closer attention to the meal cooked by Lia Williams in David Hare's play Skylight would have revealed that she does indeed add salt to the water in which the spaghetti is cooked, and that the sauce is not only "red pepper and chilli", but also includes tomatoes, onions and garlic.

There are, in my view, two serious culinary solecisms that the character commits. The first is that she fills the pan with hot water rather than cold, and the second is that she adds a crumbled chicken stock cube to the sauce. However, as we learn from her ex-lover while she is cooking the meal, cooking has never been her forte.

It is sad that Maggie Brown was denied the opportunity to taste the meal, but however hard the National Theatre tries to please its patrons we have to draw the line at providing free food for journalists in the interval. Had she tried the meal she would have found the sauce eminently edible and the spaghetti perfectly al dente.

In the course of the play the character says that she doesn't read the papers because "I start reading this stuff and half an hour later I wind up angry". I am beginning to see her point.

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD EYRE

Director

Royal National Theatre

London, SE1

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