|L-R: Caroline Langrishe and Tom England in CAROLINE'S KITCHEN. Photo by Sam Taylor.|
Caroline Mortimer (Caroline Langrishe) is a well-known television personality with her own cooking show (Caroline’s Kitchen). Her husband, Mike (Aden Gillett), is a successful banker with a penchant for golf. And their son, Leo (Tom England), has just graduated with a “First” from Cambridge. As Leo puts it, his mother presents herself as “the perfect woman with the perfect life and the perfect marriage in the perfect house with the perfect friends.”:And so it would seem.
Caroline and Mike are on the verge of selling their house in anticipation of paying off their son’s school debt, gifting him with a flat of his own, and embarking on the next stage of their own presumably ideal lives. And tonight they are planning a champagne celebration for Leo. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, just about everything. For starters, things really are not quite what they seem. Caroline may be an admired television personality with an enviable marriage but she is also a discombobulated, religiously fanatic, alcoholic carrying on an affair with Graeme (James Sutton), a carpenter working at her home. Mike may be a successful banker and golf aficionado but he is also a victim of child abuse, bi-polar, wallowing in remorse over his own previous infidelity, and seemingly incapable of expressing true affection for his wife of son. And Leo is a cigarette-smoking, vegan, semi-closeted homosexual (Caroline knows he’s gay but Mike does not), who is heartbroken to have learned of his own partner’s infidelity and who plans to leave for Syria to help the refugees before the climate change apocalypse that he deems inevitable destroys us all.
Not to be outdone by the Mortimers, Amanda (Jasmyn Banks), Caroline’s inept, insouciant, and over-sexed assistant, is in the throes of her own affair with Dominic, a married man (although that doesn’t prevent her from flirting outrageously with Graeme). And, as if not to be left out, it is then that Graeme’s own mentally unbalanced, previously institutionalized, and violence-prone wife, Sally (Elizabeth Boag), bursts upon the scene and all hell breaks loose.
The entire entourage of fidelity-challenged dysfunctional characters appear in Caroline’s Kitchen, written by Torben Betts and directed by Alastair Whatley, currently enjoying its US premiere as part of the Brits Off Broadway program at 59E59 Theaters on East 59th Street in midtown Manhattan. The play (originally entitled Monogamy) is a classic example of British slapstick humor – a kind of hellzapoppin’ farcical pastiche, replete with mistaken identities, bumbling husbands, sexual revelations, the mandatory homosexual, and just plain tom-foolery. The genre has never been my cuppa but if that is the sort of thing that floats your boat, you won’t be disappointed by this one.