Joe Ledbury’s rich script has at its core Jon’s graduation from university and with it brings his separated parents back together for a rare moment of unity to celebrate. Weaved throughout the script is a Sophie and Jack as the perfect couple at the beginning and the slow decline of their marriage throughout. These transitions bookend the main action beautifully and act as a stepping stone to the next level of divorcee def-con.
Director Andy Burden has crafted a simple yet effective piece physically, allowing the actors to own the stage by giving them the freedom to prowl, attack or retreat at will. The danger with Ledbury’s script is that the action could give way to grotesque caricature. This never happens with the cast of three keeping well within the boundaries set for them making it an even more effective decline into dysfunctional family hell.
Kirsty Cox and Alex Dunbar pack a punch as the warring exes. Planting them firmly in the middle of their current nightmare, you see the pain etched on their faces and perversely completely buy their past and the love they once shared.
Adam Lloyd-James wins the heart of any audience members who have been in the position of having to be in the middle of split parents. He mediates, placates and often takes the role of the adult whilst all about him the actually adults devolve.
Cake proves to be a real treat. The laughs are consistent. They come from dark places, absurd places or just from the odd throwaway line. Nothing is sacred here and as territory is fought for and lines are drawn. Burden and the cast clearly have a ball telling this story and that is infectious. Cake is another hit in the Theatre West season. Entertaining, snappy and entirely for the audience. Highly recommended.
CAKE by Joe Ledbury
Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol