Reviewed by Nigel Chester
Derby is unfortunate that in recent times it has lost two theatre venues. Firstly, The Assembly Rooms back in 2014, which succumbed to fire and only last week the Guild Hall was found to have structural defects and will be closed for most of the year. I was therefore delighted to be asked to review for the Derby Theatre situated in the INTU centre. Parking is easy, directly under the venue and after 6 o’clock it is only £2.50 for the evening. The welcome was warm, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase refreshments with a delightful café on the ground floor and a bar on the first floor. Which is easy to access via the large staircase or the roomy lift.
We took our comfortable seats, no complaints of lack of leg room at Derby, to be greeted by an elaborate set. A fabulous large family kitchen that we are soon to learn is celebrity television chefs Caroline Mortimer’s home as well as where all her TV work is filmed.
Caroline’s Kitchen is the new play from writer Torben Betts. Once described by Alan Ayckbourn as “The most exciting theatre writing talent I have come across in many a year” this combined with the Original Theatre company’s vision under Artistic Director Alastair Whatley gives us the ingredients to make a fabulous night out.
We open with the seemingly perfect Caroline (Caroline Langrishe) rehearsing for tomorrow’s program. Her agent Amanda (Jasmyn Banks) taking the role of the guest celebrity.
The scene is set; Caroline has the perfect life, the perfect kitchen, the perfect family. That is until one small misdemeanour caught by the paparazzi starts to reveal cracks. Each new character, who for whatever reasons find themselves in Caroline’s kitchen, be it her son Leo (Tom England) or the builder Graeme (James Sutton) bring their own challenges to Caroline’s life. She deals with the problems, in a very grown up, middle class way; she opens the wine. When that doesn’t work, she turns to her other crutch, religion.
Caroline is likeable, so human. She talks but doesn’t listen, she judges but falls far short of her own moral high ground. She’s trying to keep all the balls in the air; and as she drops them, her life unravels in ways you can’t imagine. We laugh, sometimes at her and sometimes with her. Caroline’s world is one of racism and un-politically correct comments, never meaning to upset or cause offence, it’s just part of the glass house that Caroline and her husband Mike, brilliantly played by Aden Gillett, occupy.
Caroline’s Kitchen is a joy, it’s heartfelt, it’s funny and it’s poignant.
I am very pleased to say that Theatre in Derby is safe in the very capable hands of the Derby Theatre who go from strength to strength.
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
Caroline’s Kitchen is at Derby Theatre from 24-26 January 2019, for more information or book tickets visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.
Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939