A heartwarming tale of a shoemaker who repairs broken shoes and broken lives
Claire Whitefield's Chopping Chilies first appeared in 2015's Free Fringe: now under the direction of Guy Masterson, the play has added new levels of theatricality with lighting, sound effects and music. Yet the heart of the play remains Whitefield's charming performance and well-crafted script.
A martial artist, suffering grief at the loss of his family in a tragic accident, inherits a shoe repair shop, moves overseas and uses his knowledge of the body's pressure points to alter his customer's footwear, posture, confidence and ultimately their lives. Powerless to repair his own life, he finds himself challenged only when a young, dreadlocked hipster opens up a cafe next door, and begins making food that reminds him of his lost family and the country he left behind.
The play features stories within stories, and a variety of colourful characters who speak in verse, a nod to Whitefield's background in poetry. The plot is fast moving, with a dense layer of foreshadowing and symmetry but the simple premise sweeps up the audience with its charm.
Perhaps its most intriguing point is the refusal to become a stereotypical love story, ignoring romance in favour of exploring ideas about neighbours and friendship. It also looks at how the things people create influence those that come into contact with them. Leaving the theatre after Whitefield's energetic performance, you may find yourself looking at your own shoes and wondering how they are affecting your own course of life.
Assembly Roxy, run ended (now touring).