Chutney, or “Operation: Chutney” as the characters in Reece Connolly’s play call their “hobby”, takes us through a married couple’s obsession with blood lust, which they satiate by systematically killing the local pet populace. What begins as a passion- inducing activity slowly descends into something darker (yes, even darker than the slaughtering of animals).
Whilst this sounds simply horrifying, Flux Theatre’s production uses this premise to explore current topics such as white privilege, societal pressures and what it means to be happy. We are presented with a modern kitchen- chrome furniture, white floors and cupboards and strip lighting – and a young, successful couple, Gregg (Will Adolphy) and Claire (Isabel Delia- Porta). The feel is that of being at a friend’s place, with them cooking dinner whilst telling you an entertaining story about themselves, however the content of their tale is how they came to disembowel a non-assuming dog. Their energy is so nonchalant and matter of fact that the audience cannot help but laugh at the picture being painted before them. Adolphy and Delia- Porta’s back and forth thrills throughout the evening, their relationship spiky, tumultuous and scarily relatable. Georgie Staight directs the fast- paced spectacle, teasing out the truth in each frenetic moment that contrasts brilliantly with the instances of intense stillness.
The design of this production must be mentioned, transforming The Bunker Theatre’s black box space through Jasmine Swan’s set and costume design, pops of colour from only the red knife block and a bowl of oranges (both specific references for the spectators to appreciate) and Ben Winter’s humorous and at times visceral sound design which syncs with the lighting design of Matt Cater.
Connolly’s black comedy touches eloquently on the privileges of the white middle- class, as the characters themselves recognise that due to their status and the area they live in, they are far less likely to be on the police’s radar than someone in a ‘lesser’ situation. Connolly asks the question, how far is too far? We see in this play that it is possible for someone to justify their actions in any situation, believing the lie they have told themselves to the point of distorting the reality they are actually in.
Chutney is a truly laugh out loud piece even to the biggest animal lover (which I am), with cutting one- liners and devastating consequences that will keep you talking about it long after you have left the theatre.
Chutney is playing The Bunker Theatre until 1 December 2018. For more information and tickets, click here.