Chopping Chillies is as much about Clair Whitefield’s journey as the story of the Indian cobbler in Camden Town that she has scripted.

Because what began as an abandoned 20 minute poem is now being feted at Edinburgh Fringe, receiving rave reviews on tour and being turned into a screenplay with the award winning director Guy Marston at the helm.

“I never thought anything would come of it,” Clair admits. “But once I fleshed it out and gave it a narrative, the story really flowed.”

Delighted to be hosting Clair, the Oxford Playhouse is taking Chopping Chillies to a whole new level by hosting her at Majliss curry house on the Cowley Road and feeding the audience at the same time, a first for both Clair and her one-woman show.

“It will be part of the Playhouse Plays Out series, so I said yes immediately because I’ve performed pretty much everywhere.

“And people are always hungry when they leave my show because it portrays a cobbler who lives next door to a pop-up Keralan curry house, which is very evocative.

“So this will be a fully sensory and unique experience. It’s a ride for the imagination.”

But before we get ahead of ourselves let’s get back to the cobbler and the star of her show. Born in Kerala, his family dies in a house fire and he inherits a cobblers in London where he flees to immediately afterwards.

When he arrives in Camden he discovers he has magic powers and can cure his customer’s ills by inserting special soles in their shoes. But can his grief be cured as well?

“He resoles people and puts them back in touch with their best selves,” Clair explains. “So it’s a story of grief, love and hope.

But where did the inspiration come from? “I lived in Camden and besides the cobblers there was a Chinese medicine shop and reflexologist, which maps out your body on the sole of your feet.

“And I always wondered what would happen if you could combine the two so that customers can tweak all their aches and pains at the same time.”

“So once I’d wrestled the poem back in the door and transformed it into a one hour show, I took it to Edinburgh which was an amazing experience because Chopping Chillies received such a wonderful response.

“And famous directer Guy Masterson came to see it and wanted to write the screenplay with me, so we’ve been working on that for a year now.

“In the meantime I’ve been touring. I’ve done 20 dates now, and it’s been a real adventure because the show is really dear to my heart. It’s an uplifting story of grief and friendship.”

Playing all eight characters herself; from a Brazilian samba dancer to a four year-old girl, Clair has also enjoyed the change from writer/performer to actor, pushing her own boundaries in the process.

“I travelled to Kerala aged 30 to learn to teach yoga so the show is partly biographical because my brother and father were ill at the same time. So this is about how to manage grief and how it changes you.

“And maybe that’s why the play has done so well because it’s something everyone can relate to, while reflecting a bit of my own journey and revealing my real self.”

Does she mind sharing such personal struggles? “I recycle a lot of my own experiences through my work and am happy to do so by performing my stories for other people.

“I think they need to be shared, because we do not deal with grief very well in this country or don’t have the right words to describe it.

“And that’s where this story can help, by giving such a difficult subject a softer, gentler way to bring a very emotional and painful topic out into the open to discuss it.

“And the food will help,” she grins, “because it’s so integral to the story, so will be fascinating to see how this journey from the Ganges to Camden unfolds in an Indian restaurant in Oxford.”

Already writing her next one woman show for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe based on her experiences as a reporter fresh out of university, her fans are already clamouring for her next offering.

One thing is for sure. Clair Whitefield is a name to watch.

So if your soul, and your stomach, needs feeding, hot-foot it down to Chopping Chillies before it sells out.

Chopping Chillies

Tuesday, September 12,

Majliss, Cowley Road

£20 with dinner

01865 3053056