The psychological thriller Cupcakes and Commiserations takes us on a journey of one women’s struggle with reality and its implications for her marriage.
The play delves into notions of what Nola Thompson (Tammany Barton) believes to be true and real and the knock on effects for her husband, Frank (Danny de Bruyne).
It would be remiss to not acknowledge the motif of the cupcakes throughout the play. What starts as a loving peppermint treat ends up being something quite different by the end of the play. It serves as Nola’s therapy, and her way of connecting and pleasing Frank, reassuring herself that all is well in their marriage.
The episodic structure of this play creates a filmic thriller feel that keeps us in suspense for the duration of the production. The non-chronological jumps in time (created through lighting cues by Wesley France) and police tape recordings (voiced by Masasa Mbangeni, Muzi Mthembu, Tanja Franzsen and Angela Sparks) keep us guessing right up until the climax of the piece which was well executed and left this reviewer feeling the effects of films like Gone Girl or Shutter Island.
Having spoken to playwright and lead actress, Tammany Barton, the process drew on inspiration from Meisner that was beautifully nurtured by director Penny Bramwell-Jones. Barton spoke of the importance of listening and trusting the process to really bring these characters to life on stage and to see the reactions it would bring for the audience.
The play is far from “half baked” and the ending takes us back to where we started which begs the question – were we there all along?
Cupcakes and Commiserations runs at Sandton’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square until September 21. Tickets are available from Computicket.