Clair Whitefied: Chopping Chillies

Bunbury Magazine: ★★★★

A lot of performance poetry is preceded by preamble – the poets thoughts behind writing the piece, when they wrote it, what it means. When Clair walked on stage to begin Chopping Chillies, barefoot – rarely seen now – she composes herself and simply begins with no preamble.

All the way through this beautiful tale, the use of language is wonderful. We are taken on a journey of heartbreak, loss, friendship and acceptance through the tale of a man who, whilst living in his native India, loses his family in a tragic accident. He moves to London to reopen the shoe repair shop bequeathed to him by his uncle. He is a wise man and uses this wisdom to help customers make their lives better, getting them to where they want to be – accidentally mixing up the shoe of two customers so they would have to meet again and fall in love.

Then one day, a young woman opens up a pop-up restaurant next door, cooking his native food. To reveal more here would be to give too much away but the descriptions of the food made our mouths water. The audience was gripped to every word all throughout this wonderful tale, beautifully strung together.

And then it dawned on us why Clair may have chosen to go barefoot for this piece. It is a piece of connection. Those lost, those gained. It is a piece connected on a very personal level to the performer, who extends that connection to the audience through a wonderfully spun narrative and being barefoot connects her to the space, completing the immersive nature of Chopping Chillies.

‘Chopping Chillies’ – 1200, CowgateHead, UpTwoM, Until 29th August

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