Caroline’s Kitchen at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre: did reviewer and I watch the same show?

Caroline's Kitchen at the Devonshire Park Theatre SUS-191103-090152001
Caroline's Kitchen at the Devonshire Park Theatre SUS-191103-090152001

From: Simon Ireland

Salisbury Road

Reading the glowing tribute to Caroline’s Kitchen, I did wonder whether your reviewer and I had watched the same production.

My wife was tempted to leave at half time after some forty five minutes of one character shouting endlessly at another who wasn’t listening and lines that were either cliched or gabbled at ridiculous speed.

I thought things might improve but the fact that they did was due solely to the efforts of the cast rather than the quality of the writing.

The disclosure that the script had already undergone one rewrite was perhaps a telling one; further revision might provide characters we could genuinely care about and less obvious plot devices.

Caroline is having an affair with her handyman – surely not!

Her son will announce he is gay – who would have guessed!

The prospective house buyer will arrive at the most chaotic moment – well blow me down!

Aden Gillet certainly gave it his all but to suggest that Torben Betts takes ‘a fine surgical knife to human nature’ with his ‘masterful’ dialogue is surely over-egging the pudding.

Effective farce needs moments of reflection and pathos to offset the excess.

Unfortunately, these were lost in the endless round of frustrated yelling and what could have been a revealing insight into ageing and relationships descended into caricature.

Ultimately, this felt like a dramatic recipe that needed better quality ingredients.