Caroline’s Kitchen, Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Until April 13. 01206 573948.

Caroline Mortimer is a successful TV chef, her programme broadcast live from her kitchen.

She is a Christian and her politics are to the right, but everyone in the family has secrets. Caroline is having an affair with her builder, Graham, her husband Michael has just confessed to an affair, her son is, (shock horror), gay and needs to come out to his Dad.

But that’s just the surface, every single character in this play walks on with piles of emotional baggage, and Bett’s script hails back to the 1970s, women are referred to as, 'bits of crumpet', and Michael’s character gives allowance for everything seen as stereotypically lefty to be attacked, from caring about Syria to veganism. Plus, the plot is entirely predictable.

Director Alastair Whatley appears to have given the cast one note, which is to shout very loudly. It begins at high volume, and never lets up, so we go on no journey with the characters. Both Caroline Langshire, (Caroline), and Aden Gillett, (Michael), can be heard clearly when they stop shouting, in fact we hear them more when they are not screaming at high pitch.

I don’t know what offended me most, the tired trope of being gay a 'problem', (Michael shouts, 'Gay?? But you loved rugby!' totally ignoring the fine and inspiring example of Gareth Thomas, or the casual use of mental illness as a plot device.

Graham’s wife, Sally, turns up to confront Caroline, a good performance by Elizabeth Boag, who, despite being up against appalling stereotyping, manages to give the character some depth.

To be fair, Betts is a very good technician, and he does pay off every situation he sets up rapidly and to the overall delight of most of the audience. But there’s nothing here that will get younger people into the theatre, and in 2019 this script felt hideously dated.