Writer: Torben Betts
Director: Alastair Whatley
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
Do not be fooled by the very traditional kitchen set. This is no cosy little domestic drama. As befits a tale about a TV celebrity chef, this has teeth. Having toured the UK, including a run in London, it now has its sights set on New York. While the Americans may be quite at home with the complex tapestry of sexual activity, they may find the irreverence to religion harder to swallow.
Nobody’s life could be quite as perfect as the image portrayed by the sainted Caroline but her world is positively pock-marked with balloons waiting to be pricked. The problems start with an almost innocuous threat by a Sunday paper to print pictures of a drunk Caroline toppling out of a taxi. But it soon becomes clear no character’s public personae is quite what it seems.
This black-comedy starts at a gentle canter but quickly gains pace, and the entire cast have to stretch themselves to stay up with the action. The script is a well-crafted mixture of harmless humour peppered with unexpected outrageous twists. Most of which centre on, or concern, attitudes towards death. They say out loud ideas many of us may hesitate to think.
The other delicious irony the play shows is the unrelenting grip we seem to have on self-interest. Caroline screams at her son to “talk to me”. But she, like the other protagonists, are only really interested in hearing their own voices. Caroline Langrishe, dishes up a stylish portrait of a woman who seems to have it all, but still wants more. Aden Gillett offers the most powerful presence as Mike her golf-loving ex-banker spouse. To him golf is everything and he struggles with the shocks that occur and he tries to retreat into dreams of halcyon rounds on the green.
Helping to upset his parents is son Leo (Tom England). The evening on their idyllic north London dream kitchen is meant to be the setting to celebrate his glittering prize of a 1st from Cambridge. But like all good children he has a couple of surprises up his sleeve which help to scupper the event, even if the others were not already queuing up to poison the atmosphere.
Amanda, the personal assistant, foisted on Caroline by her TV bosses, is meant to help smooth out the glitches in her life. Sadly Amanda, wonderfully over-played by Jasmyn Banks, lacks any tact and spends much of the time flashing her legs at Graeme the married carpenter. Her attempts to get the hapless artisan to run his ruler over her bedroom failing miserably.
When Graeme’s wife Sally (Elizabeth Boag) is mistaken for a potential buyer for the house with the perfect kitchen things really take off. The second half certainly steps up the speed and the cast are to be congratulated on all turning in very fine performances. A delicious night out with plenty of food for thought.
Runs until 23 February 2019 | Image: Sam Taylor