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  • Henry Longstaff

Casserole - Arcola Theatre

An undercooked but promising drama

Casserole at the Arcola Theatre
Photograhy - Kit Mackenzie


Paulina Camacho & Paul Weedle’s set design has more than enveloped the Arcola’s studio space, the cramped home, belonging to feuding couple Kate and Dom, spills outwards with additional chairs for the audience nestled amongst the furniture. Like their relationship, Kate and Dom’s living room is neglected and chaotic. Empty cans and takeaway boxes litter the floor whilst dishes and cookware cascade across the kitchen counters in a fashion that a serial hoarder would be proud of. The attention to detail from the design team is impressive considering the limitations of a studio space.

The seventy-minute piece centres around the couple, nearly a year after the loss of Kate’s mother, a loss that lingers presently in the air. Convinced her mum is trying to contact her she arrives home having ditched an awards ceremony fearful of what it all means to find her boyfriend eating a reheated casserole, the last meal that her mum ever made for her. Bitter truths and withheld emotions are flung across the stage as the pair battle it out in the hope of finding common ground where for a long time there has been bubbling resentment. Even for a play of this length, the piece struggles to go far enough, often treading water around the same topics unable to evolve beyond the play’s original arguments. The concept of a couple unable to escape a grief that both holds them together and separates them is worthwhile and engaging but too many moments descend into a repetitive shouting match.

Kate Kelly Flood and James Alexandrou are strong as the troubled couple, able to match the intensity of the person opposite them. There is an awkward tenderness to their relationship, as Alexandrou’s Dom continually clings onto Flood’s Kate, as she tries to brush him off the distance between them obvious. Dom has been out of work, now trying his hand as an armchair entrepreneur in contrast to Kate’s award-winning career the resentment and jealousy impossible to disguise. There is undeniable range in the performances but the script limits wider potential, shepherding the duo into a restricted play area where the dialogue shifts between organic and artificial, glistening at times but particularly thin as it attempts to break new ground.

This is in many ways a raw piece of theatre with impactful, stomach-churning beats and an interesting vision but the delivery needs an extra few minutes in the oven - I hope to see it developed further.

Running until 30th March - Tickets

Photography - Kit Mackenzie

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