Review: Never Have I Ever at Chichester's Minerva Theatre - this is how bankrupt restaurant serves up an unforgettable treat

Amit Shah, Alex Roach, Greg Wise, Susan Wokoma in Never Have I Ever: Photo Helen Murray (Photo: Helen Murray)
Amit Shah, Alex Roach, Greg Wise, Susan Wokoma in Never Have I Ever: Photo Helen Murray (Photo: Helen Murray)

The underlying tension is apparent from the moment this play bursts into life – in the bijou restaurant where meals are cooked to order at each individual table.

But tonight, the venue is closed to the public and only one dinner is being prepared by the couple whose dream it was.

Should they serve an expensive bottle of wine … or the cheapest in the cellar? They neither want to seem mean-spirited nor profligate for reasons which quickly become clear.

This is to be no ordinary social party.

They are hosting long-standing friends who invested – or at least the husband did – £125,000 to establish the enterprise.

Tonight they have to break it to him that despite hanging on for nearly two years, they could be best described as insolvent or, more truthfully, bankrupt and all his money is lost.

We spend the evening with the four of them as their relationships spin and turn with breathless speed like a kaleidoscope whose images grow ever darker and more disturbing.

As truths of past intimacies are revealed the guy who has already lost one pile of cash offers a further £500,000 to salvage the situation.

But there is a terrible price tag attached.

Interweaving this play are a host of topical themes from racism, ethnicity and ‘woke’ to the one that prompted the biggest roar of laughter – who didn’t vote Remain in the Brexit referendum.

It’s all underwritten by a wicked sense of humour and the surreal.

This is a masterclass in how the very best drama should be delivered and the cast of Alex Roach, Amit Shah, Greg Wise, and Susan Wokoma are simply sublime.

They are devastatingly good.

To say more of the plot might be spoiling, but it’s hard not to be reminded of the Robert Redford and Demi Moore film Indecent Proposal of thirty years ago.

There’s no Hollywood sugar coating here and the humour softens the palate to make the final denouement as bitter as it is magnificent.