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Caroline’s Kitchen review

Following a hit London run, this culinary comedy is on tour with the Connaught Theatre, Worthing its latest stop from Wed 3 – Sat 6 April.

Caroline Mortimer is a well-loved TV cook but when the camera turns off the truth comes out. There are damaging paparazzi pictures and several counts of infidelity in the mix as characters come together and a an unexpected guest disrupts a night of would-be celebration.

Pic by Sam Taylor

With far too much wine flowing, a forgotten celebratory meal in the oven and various family members, a strangely clingy handyman and Caroline’s new less-than-friendly PA all coming and going through two doors of one kitchen it seems like the classic set up for farce.

Pic by Sam Taylor

But while there’s definitely a revolving doors style to the play, it’s more of a black comedy with some dark themes like disturbed childhoods, mental illness and a hint of domestic violence helping bring things to a head over the background of a summer thunderstorm.

All the while the tension is building there’s a knife – glinting in the light bang in the middle of the set since the opening sequence and you just know it will come into play in a none too culinary way. Then there’s the crunch of dried pasta underfoot as things take a poignant turn.

Pic by Sam Taylor

Caroline’s Kitchen has been billed as state-of-the-nation play, which is overstating it a bit but there are some modern themes in there about moral hypocrisy, mental health, and, on a lighter note, disgraced celebrities and our obsession with TV cookery shows.

Caroline, (played by Caroline Langrishe) is both pious and pie-eyed, a woman who needs to pay attention to three key men in her life but is all the while distracted, or wilfully avoiding uncomfortable truths.

Pic by Sam Taylor

She is not the only character with contradictions at heart. A superficial-seeming PA (Amanda, played by Eastenders’ Jasmyn Banks), who had my friend laughing with recognition, has a private grief fuelling her actions. Leo (Tom England) is the young son whose love life makes his parents uneasy yet who has a much better grasp than they on the foundations of a good relationship.

Pic by Sam Taylor

Elizabeth Boag as Sally stood out for me as an uninvited guest who stirs things up in the second half, turning between starstruck, sad and disturbed.

It’s a simple format comedy that pokes fun at modern relationships but which also touches on some darker themes. You definitely wouldn’t look to these characters for tips on your love life but you might just learn a helpful hint about the perfect roast potatoes.

Caroline’s Kitchen is at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Wed 3 – Sat 6 April with tickets from 24.50.

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