The Bakewell Bake Off: A New Musical

An unsavoury confection without resolution

★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2015

Towards the end of The Bakewell Bake Off you will realise you're not actually watching a story being told: you're observing a pretend baking competition. The contestants are introduced, they present their creations, and eventually there's a winner. That is as close to a beginning, middle and end as the play can offer.

Initially, it seems the bake off is meant to illustrate the variety of the Bakewell community and provide a vehicle for the ensemble's respective character arcs. Instead, after introducing its cast of broadly drawn local eccentrics, the play inexplicably loses interest in giving any of them a conclusion.

One contestant, a trans character played as a kind of panto dame, is never anything but a source of mockery, a portrayal that teeters on the edge of offensiveness until a sub-Dad's Army German accent pushes it over. She yearns for acceptance, but hers is one of several stories that never gain resolution.

Another baker, born in England but of Indian extraction, also hopes that participating in the bake off will help the community look at her with something other than barely disguised bigotry. She has one laugh-out-loud moment when she is unwillingly made the centre of a tacky Bollywood number, but does she eventually change how she's perceived? Who knows? The list goes on.

If the point of the production was to remind cosmopolitan Edinburgh residents of everything tedious, twee and close-minded about life in a rural small town, it almost works. Except the parody is so bafflingly affectionate, it ceases to be parodic.