Caroline’s Kitchen at Royal & Derngate

Caroline's Kitchen
📸 Sam Taylor

[Gifted] - This experience was gifted by Royal & Derngate in exchange for a review.

Caroline's Kitchen is a dark, twisted comedy that will make you think “what just happened” for all the right reasons.

Have you ever wondered what life was like behind a TV show? Caroline's Kitchen is the new comedy play by Torben Betts, which cleverly portrays how first impressions and what you see on screen is not all that it seems.

It tells the story of Caroline Mortimer, the perfect Christian woman who is the nations favourite TV cook. When she is under the glow of the studio lights, she seems to have everything; the perfect husband, a sparkling career, the perfect house, a Cambridge graduate son and the best kitchen money can buy. But when the lights go down and the camera's switched off, truths start to sizzle out and an unexpected guest spills more than just the wine.

The whole story starts sizzling away from the very beginning and as the temperature starts to turn up, it instantly ends on a cliffhanger that leaves you hungry for more.

Caroline's Kitchen
📸 Sam Taylor
Caroline's Kitchen
📸 Sam Taylor
Caroline's Kitchen
📸 Sam Taylor

The direction by Alastair Whatley was witty and fast-paced, so much so, he had a brilliant way of successfully over-lapping each individual character drama into one play - without being too over-complicated.

Though it was a slow start, in terms of the story, it quickly turned up the heat as Act 2 started and we found ourselves roaring with laughter at all the innuendos and awkward silences.

Caroline Mortimer, played by Caroline Langrishe, upon the first impression portrayed a woman you couldn't relate to but envied to be as she had it all. Her perfect, Christian woman appearance slowly but surely fizzled away as we started to see a much more chaotic, anxious Caroline. The character journey was very enjoyable to watch and Langrishe proved just how sublime of an actress she truly is.

Her depressed, old-fashioned Husband, Mike, played by Aden Gillet was never unnoticed on stage with his big, bellowing voice. His character was hard to understand when he first appeared on stage, as his drunk acting meant I couldn't hear what he was saying - but his delivery in his character was easily a highlight and made me laugh the most.

The highlight and ray of sunshine through the darkness of the show was Amanda, Caroline's PA, played by Jasmyn Banks - I saw her in a new shade of light compared to her character in EastEnders and she proved through her huge outbursts of highs and low's that she is an actress not to be underestimated.

There was additional strong support from actors like Tom England, who played the Leo, the son of Caroline and Mike, who you really felt sorry for as you witnessed him longing for his parents' attention as he broke the news of his sexuality which adds shock waves to this even more dramatic play.

James Sutton, who plays the lovesick handyman, Graeme, is equally as strong in acting and in delivering his love confession to Caroline, whom they have been secretly having an affair - upon the first impression, he's easily the hottest guy on stage, but as we get to know his character and his background, you realise he is so much more than that.

Caroline's Kitchen
📸 Sam Taylor

Overall, this was a different genre of play that I usually wouldn't go for myself, but if you open yourself up to something new, you will be surprised just how much the play has an impact on you as you walk out.

With additional sound effects and opening credits music, a witty and dry sense of humour script, 6 strong actors and a story that twists and turns throughout, it's a show you need to come and see, with an incredibly dramatic ending that you don't want to miss.

Don't miss this at Royal & Derngate - runs until Saturday 18th February.

★★★★

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