TORBEN Betts is the man who became director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough when Alan Ayckbourn handed over the reins, so it’s no surprise that his play Caroline’s Kitchen (originally titled Monogamy) has indelible touches of the UK’s most prolific playwright.
Set in the real life North London kitchen of television cook Caroline Mortimer (where the programme is actually filmed), the play takes place over one day of drinking, recriminations, revelations, Revelations and more drinking.
Struggling to keep a hold on her work, her increasingly morose husband, her rebellious son, her carpenter-on-the-side and her new assistant, the bottle is the obvious answer for our heroine. Trying to empathise with everyone and spouting the currently-popular jargon of the cod psychology community, she is less and less able to concentrate on anything or anyone.
The writing is on the wall for the Mortimers, in the form of the crucifix that marks Caroline’s re-discovered religion, the anecdotal unintended prophesies repeated by husband Mike, and the apocalyptic weather.
Skeletons come seeping from the cupboards and the meat begins to burn, inhibitions fade and the chaos of family life is laid bare, in all its selfish non-communication.
Caroline Langrishe holds centre stage, with Aden Gillett using all his bluster and charm as Mike and Tom England as the anguished, heartbroken vegan Leo. James Sutton is a Graeme totally out of his depth and Elizabeth Boag a determinedly unhinged Sally, with Jasmyn Banks as the needy assistant.
Caroline’s Kitchen is often funny, sometimes very sad and washed over with a sense of helpless doom – a bit like the world today. It continues at Bath until Saturday 30th March.