Home » London Theatre Reviews » Flux Theatre Present: Chutney at Bunker Theatre | Review

Flux Theatre Present: Chutney at Bunker Theatre | Review

Chutney - © Rah Petherbridge Photography
Chutney – © Rah Petherbridge Photography

A few years ago, my dad and I had a long and heated discussion about attraction and what attracts one person to another. And when you look around at couples you know or see, I’m sure at some time you’ve thought to yourself ‘why are those two together?’ Attraction can be based on many things. Physical appearance, background, interests, religion, all of these can be factors. Sometimes though, as in the case of the protagonists of Chutney at the Bunker Theatre, the real reason they were attracted to each other doesn’t become fully apparent until long after the relationship has begun.

University sweethearts Claire (Isabel Della-Porta) and Gregg (Will Adolphy) have been together for 6 years. They are the classic DINK, settled into their nice middle-class life. Gregg is a teacher and Claire has some high powered job with a long, long title in an agency. They are the ultimate example of an up and coming power couple. What more could they want? And then, one day, they dog-sit for some friends and the outcome of that night – not necessarily great for the dog – brings the couple closer together in a way that neither Claire or Gregg ever thought possible.

Not giving anything away here – as it’s on the Bunker website – but Reece Connolly’s play about a could that “have an insatiable desire to murder animals” is wrong on every possible level. The subject matter is just gross and the abuse of a very nice John Lewis blender is totally unforgivable. But, and I hate to say it, I absolutely loved the show. It’s difficult to know where to start with what is right with Chutney.

The writing is first-rate, with some lovely twists and turns so that the audience are constantly surprised by the direction that the two characters go as they head to an ending that is in itself a complete surprise. I loved the use of a narrator, by the name of Bertha (Rosalind McAndrew) who helped to ensure the story didn’t get too tense. Jasmine Swan has designed a very modern kitchen set for the couple to live in when added to their costumes definitely shout out their social class and current living conditions and Director Georgie Staight makes excellent use of the space available to give Claire and Gregg enough room to interact together and, more importantly, be able to talk to the audience directly as the majority of the play is delivered by the characters breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience

This means that you need two actors that can not only gell together onstage but can also create a relationship with the people in the audience. It’s even more important given the subject matter to make Claire and Gregg not only likeable but people you want to spend two hours with and Isabel Della-Porta and Will Adolphy are an absolute treat in their respective roles. Not only are they a lovely – if slightly psychotic – couple but in their interactions with the punters, they come across so well. They really shouldn’t be so likeable but you know if they were your neighbours, you would often talk about that really nice couple from No 14, and how much you’re looking forward to having them around for drinks. The affection between Claire and Gregg feels genuine and there was a moment in the second act when I really felt that Gregg was a wonderful partner after he had done something to rectify a rabbit related incident in Claire’s past. Overall, I felt a real affinity with Claire and Gregg – though obviously not to the point of sharing their hobbies.

And this, for me sums up Chutney. Everything felt believable and identifiable to make this such a fantastically authentic and enjoyable production. Claire and Gregg are just a normal middle-class couple who have a hobby. If it was sewing, line dancing or even swinging, nobody would mind but because they like to kill animals, they are in the wrong. Just think of that as you sit down to your Sunday roast and dig into the dead cow, pig, lamb or chicken on your plate.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

Offering a dark commentary on attitudes towards relationship taboos and the illicit desires that bond people or break them, this new black comedy is Animals of Farthing Wood meets American Psycho. Claire and Gregg are, on the surface, the archetypal ‘normal’ couple: met at university, adored by each other’s parents, co-owners of a pleasant suburban home and an efficient John Lewis blender. But as fantasy and reality begin to blur it soon becomes apparent that beneath their unassuming exterior they are united by an insatiable and horrific desire: to murder their neighbours’ pets.

Company Information
Directed by Georgie Staight Written by Reece Connolly
Sound by Ben Winter Lighting by Matt Cater
Set and Costume by Jasmine Swan Produced by Zoe Weldon

Listings information
Bunker Theatre, 53A Southwark St, London SE1 1RU
6 Nov – 1 Dec, 7.30pm Tue – Sat, Sat matinees 3pm
Running Time: Approx 120 minutes inc interval | Suitable for ages 16+
www.bunkertheatre.com | 0207 234 0486

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