PLAYWRIGHT Torben Betts is firmly in the Alan Ayckbourn and Mike Leigh school of dark humour; extracting high comedy from dysfunctional groups of human beings with misplaced aspirations and abysmal failure to connect with those closest to them.

Caroline’s Kitchen is very, very funny, in the hands of a cast with well-honed skills. In the eponymous role is the feisty Caroline Langrishe. She’s a TV cook whose show is recorded in her own home.

On the evening the story takes place she and her husband Mike are due to celebrate their son’s homecoming after achieving a first at Cambridge University.

But their plans rapidly unravel as revelations and secrets bubble to the surface of the kitchen cauldron, exacerbated by the fact that none of them is listening to anyone else.

Ms Langrishe is key to the tempo of the action and she controls it perfectly. Aden Gillett is her disillusioned, golf-playing husband who portrays painfully well a man quite unable to deal with emotional matters.

Their son, played by Tom England, appearing on home turf this week – he went to school in Trowbridge – has something he really wants to discuss with his parents but both are occupied with their own immediate problems and he cannot get their attention. His is a gently modulated performance in contrast to the chaos around him.

Then there is Amanda the PA, shrill, bossy and exceeding her authority in every direction. Jasmyn Banks could have been much funnier if her enunciation had been as clear as her body language.

Also suffering from the heat of the kitchen were carpenter Graeme, an endearing portrait of a man totally out of his depth from James Sutton and Sally his wife, a study in hysteria from Elizabeth Boag.

Jo Bayne