The Bunker Theatre is quite the charming Fringe theatre tucked away near London Bridge, putting on varied and exciting new plays, and Chutney by Reece Connolly is no exception.
The story revolves around Claire and Gregg, a well-to-do power couple (epitomizing your stereotypical Daily Mail reader) who grow an insatiable bloodlust towards animals that shakes the core of their world.
Before even stepping into the theatre, Set and Costume Designer Jasmine Swan cleverly has multiple missing pets posters set up around the foyer, already creating an interest in the play before it even begins. Certainly made me excited for what I was about to see, and the minimalist set with catchy noughties pop hits playing on the radio set a very millennial tone to the play.
Reece Connolly’s writing is witty, wacky and woefully Waitrose, with a reminiscence to Phil Porter’s Blink. Although the beginning was a bit clunky as we get used to the narrative style of the play, once the disturbing but fascinating plot took shape it was thoroughly compelling. Connolly’s writing is slick and keeps the jokes firing out throughout the play, barely giving you time to breathe before another painfully Middle-Class comment is made – ‘We’re not working class, we have a pasta maker’. However some of Gregg’s singing wasn’t needed and didn’t add anything to the play and felt a little eggy.
Director Georgie Staight cleverly orchestrates such a quirky play by incorporating it to the minimalist set and keeping it very ‘in-your-face’ throughout, which allows the piece to breathe. The use of the stage was flawless, often creating beautiful images whilst being aware of the thrust theatre challenges, not leaving anyone with a bad view.
In a play like this, both actors are absolutely essential to create a likeability with two horrible characters, and Isabel Della-Porta and Will Adolphy did just that. Adolphy as Gregg was very likeable indeed and very funny, although sometimes I felt hammed up a few lines to bring out more comedy than was always needed. However the star of the show is Isabel Della-Porta as Claire. She owned the stage, and always had you in the palms of her murderous hands. She naturally brought a Middle-Class, psychotic edge that was a joy to watch.
The sound and lighting by Ben Winter and Matt Cater respectively was mostly excellent and really propelled the piece. The intricacies Cater uses to bring out such an exciting minimalist set makes it a visual masterpiece, especially the red light around the knives, although there was one scene where Della-Porta wasn’t properly lit nearer the beginning. Winter’s design was exciting and clever, perfect for the play (especially the subtle hums), although I would have liked there to be actual speaking from off-stage characters rather than the murmur that was produced.
Overall Chutney is disturbingly charming, and coming to the Bunker Theatre for this play will definitely be a good night out! The epitome of a murderously Middle-Class thriller.
Review by Adam Yorke
Seat: Centre | Price of Ticket: £19.50 (Concessions £15, U30 £10)