Rock Cakes is a satire about friendship, contemporary British identity and competitive baking. Londoner Sam is a talented young baker. Egged on by her friend, a Congolese immigrant and pirate radio DJ called Harry, she competes in a popular television baking competition. With Harry’s music in her ears, she wins several rounds, earns the respect of the famous judge, and becomes a symbol of hope for her urban community. She also gains the attention of Stokely, a radical activist. Stokely tries to persuade Sam that by competing in the ‘indulgent’ competition, she is perpetuating a culture of British imperialism. In the final rounds, she starts a relationship with fellow competitor, Del. She tells him that the secret to her strength is the friendship and support she receives from Harry. When Harry is denied British citizenship and detained, a distraught Sam flops the penultimate round, but squeezes into the final. The theme of the final show-stopping challenge is “Britain” and with Stokely’s support, Sam constructs a huge cake version of the Judge’s head. But as she wheels the cake before the gobsmacked judge, she smashes the cake, covering everyone in sponge before tearing down the marquee.
Rock Cakes takes the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16) and brings it to contemporary Britain, exploring the original ideas of power and strength – where we find it, how we use it, and how we cope with losing it. As with the biblical text, our protagonist (and the source of her strength, her close friend Harry) is struggling with concepts of identity in an ‘oppressive’ land. Harry, a Congolese immigrant, is threatened with deportation, re-contextualising the immigrant nature of the Israelites throughout the Old Testament. In reporting Harry, Sam’s fellow competitors place the trivial competition above the life of another human. This is reminiscent of the legalistic Pharisees that Jesus scolded for forgetting basic human compassion (Matthew 12). With Harry’s situation in her mind, and Stokely’s words in her ears, Sam struggles with how to engage with this most British of pastimes. Here, the challenge of Daniel 1 emerges – can Sam collude in this “symbol of British colonialism”? Withdraw in silent and passive protest? Or will she, like Samson, tear down this “Temple of Tarts”? Like Samson, Sam is a warrior of great strength, who learns to sacrifice her life (in the competition) for the good of her people.