Review – Caroline’s Kitchen

Harriet Joyce reviews the latest show at Incognito Theatre

The cast of Caroline's Kitchen at Incognito Theatre
Caption: Credit – Incognito Theatre

The Torben Betts play Caroline’s Kitchen was the latest production at Friern Barnet’s Incognito Theatre last month.

Directed by Spencer Clayton, who has been a member of the Incognito Theatre company since 2006, it tells the story of Caroline Mortimer, the nation’s second favourite TV cook. She appears to have it all: a big house, a (golf) loving husband, smart kids and the best kitchen she could ask for, until the cameras are turned off and the truth comes out.

This setting was successfully achieved thanks to the lighting and sound, designed by Chris Mason. The transition from black out to warm TV studio-like lighting and the decision to have a theme tune fading in during the opening made the audience feel like we were the live audience of a real TV cooking show.

The team of set builders and designers helped to create an impressive kitchen, which had a wash of blue throughout to express the themes of depression and addiction. The set was extremely detailed with a fridge, oven and smoke alarm, which all worked as functioning props. This created such an incredible authenticity for the amateur theatre production.

The set was adorned with intricate blue props such as kitchen utensils, wall art and even the wine glasses. There were also some red details such as a painting, which contrasted the rest of the blue hues, to express the contrasting themes of love, lust and unfulfillment. The red and pink roses on the kitchen table and the pink lighting coming through the window showed the rose-tinted view Caroline was trying to express to the public and her house guests.

However, in the second act the lighting from the window was no longer pink because the glamorised façade of Caroline’s Kitchen had begun to fade. The second act’s use of pathetic fallacy through rain and thunder sound effects helped set this tense mood.

I enjoyed seeing the incredible portrayal of these complex characters from the facial expressions of Claire Janew, who excellently portrayed the hilarious but dysfunctional Amanda, to the emotive line delivery from both Maria Casey, playing the lead Caroline, and Mary Groom, playing vulnerable Sally.

The use of ironic and sometimes dark humour left the audience spilling into belly-buckling laughter throughout the play through clever comedic timing, which relieved moments of high tension. For example, when Amanda, would interrupt at the most inconvenient moments with running jokes, such as her signature telephone voice.

Stephen Milligan gave a hilarious and relatable portrayal of the (golf) loving husband, Mike. It was a very realistic portrayal of the apathetic older man archetype with humorous and engaging anecdotes about golf, as well as philosophical monologues about his regret for how he had chosen to spend his life.

Jennie Mendé’s costume design had small yet well-thought details, such as the stain on carpenter Graeme’s scruffy work trousers. This contrasted Caroline’s classy satin shirt, making the plot twist regarding the relationship between the characters very unexpected and shocking. Such minute details make the intimate atmosphere of Incognito Theatre a very immersive and unique experience.

For more information about and tickets for future Incognito Theatre productions go to:

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