New play Chutney is a dark comedy about a couple brought together by murderous intent.
I caught up with playwright Reece Connelly for a behind-the-scenes look at the production.
What was your inspiration for this story?
I wanted to write a suburban horror story told with dark dark humour, directly to the audience - nowhere to hide. An addictive rabbit hole of a story you can really fall into, with these weird and suspect characters as your guides.
Are you drawing on any personal experiences for these characters?
These characters couldn’t been more different from me if I tried, which is why they were so fun to write. It was a release, exposing their dark and twisted lives and really turning the screw - a big part of writing is sadomasochism.
The play explores this idea of fantasy and reality - most of my writing does - and this idea of the imagined and projected self you promote in public, on your Instagram, to yourself, and how that can be so far-removed from the actual self. In that space between the two, there’s a lot of potential for conflict, drama, explosives.
Chutney looks at two people discovering their true selves and the actual relationship that they’re existing in.
What was the creative process?
I write super-quick, but this particular play has been in development for about two years now - from initial drafts through many other versions, a few readings, and a couple workshopping things, the largest and most in-depth of which was with Flux, who are now producing the play. I’m really glad that it’s had such a life, had so many different people’s inputs, and that I’ve been allowed the space to really hone what it is I want to say with it.
Who are some of your theatre heroes or inspirations?
Theatre is hard. I have so much respect and love for anyone who’s slogging away at it, making good and daring and honest work, helping chip away at the old institution, bringing in a new, exciting, kinder theatre for everyone. There’s a lot of walls to bring down, lots of false idols to pull off their plinths - anyone with the bravery and activism to do that is my hero.
I just saw Wise Children at the Old Vic - Emma Rice is amazing. That type of theatre - spectacular, colourful, self-aware, all-encompassing entertainment - is what I want to make. Cheaper tickets and a different way of doing seats and that’d be my perfect show.
What does the play have to say about relationships in today’s world?
It’s criticising a particular way to live your life, including the relationships you’re having, where you’re so lost inside what other people think and what you set as ‘gold standards’ you lose track of your true self, and - in Chutney’s case - your morals, your empathy, your humanity. There’s so much pressure some people place on their lives, and I think it squeezes the real life out of you. That can be sad, and it can also be dangerous.
What do you hope that people feel when watching Chutney?
I hope people are surprised, shocked, entertained - sounds basic, but I want people to have a good night out. You’ve paid for a ticket, come to this theatre, I want to give you a good time. If I can make you think of certain things a bit differently too, then that’s champion.