Cake

Jen Brown
Customs House, South Shields
(2004)

Cake, although a new play, is not new writing: it is new old writing. In other words, it is yet another variation on the classic comedy of manners, the sort of thing that could become popular with the less adventurous small amateur group looking for something which their audience will find amusing and with just a little of the mildly risqué about it - mispronouncing, for example, the word panis, as in Panis Angelicus, so that it sounds almost like penis.

It is Maddy's wedding day, but her Argentinean husband-to-be doesn't turn up. At dad Bob's insistence, the reception is to go ahead. Throw in family complications (including the fact that Bob at one time had a fling with his wife's sister) and a one-hit-wonder minor celebrity who is married to said sister, and you open the door to a string of pretty predictable jokes along with family arguments which go round in circles and never get anywhere, much less actually achieve any form of resolution.

It's a reasonably well crafted play - although, as one would expect of the genre, there is little depth of characterisation - and the audience did seem to enjoy it. Nor could the performances be faulted in any way, although it has to be said that the play does not make any real demands on its cast so that these experienced North East actors were never stretched and gave solid, workmanlike performances without breaking sweat.

Really this is rather anodyne sitcom country.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan