Review: Caroline's Kitchen at Cambridge Arts Theatre - it's farce meets melodrama and the audience loved it

PUBLISHED: 10:37 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:02 30 January 2019

Caroline's Kitchen is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

Caroline's Kitchen is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

Archant

Caroline’s Kitchen, by Torben Betts, is 1980’s farce meets Victorian melodrama. The plot is predictable and the characters cliched but the audience loved it - so what the heck.

This play, Caroline’s Kitchen, by Torben Betts, is 1980s farce meets Victorian melodrama. The plot is predictable and the characters cliched but the audience loved it - so what the hec. It suits a lot of palates.

The action, and there is a lot of it, is set in the home of a television cook whose Pavlovas might be perfection but her home-life is crumbing. Adroitly played by Caroline Langrishe, our heroine is so tense that any moment she is likely to boil over. Her husband Mike, (Aden Gillet) possibly modelled on a scruffy version of the Duke of Edinburgh, is old school: keen investor, absent father, unfaithful husband, good on the golf course.

Into the mixture are thrown Caroline’s assistant, Amanda (played with verve by Jasmyn Banks - everyone is addressed as “Hello Lovely”, whether they are or not) and the son Leo who has-just-graduated-from-Cambridge-with-a-first and is carrying what he thinks is a great burden about his love life.

And the dish is pepped up with natural but spicy performances from James Sutton as the handyman/carpenter Graeme and Graeme’s feisty wife, Sally played deliciously by Elizabeth Boag.

So what’s not to like, you could have it all with custard.

Except that the first half does take a while to set the scene, build up the characters and get going and there are no real surprises in the second half, it gathers pace and builds to a climax but there are no shocks.

This is a traditional play, with a beginning, albeit rather drawn out, a middle and an end. Nothing much happens, there is no great development of character forced by the plot, no massive revalations that shock anyone to the core.

But people left telling each other how funny it was and describing the bits they liked best. So who am I to pour cold water on the pudding?

Caroline’s Kitchen is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 2.

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