This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.
Freya of Doncaster is visiting Michelle, a writer living in the Cotswold who embraces the life of a struggling artist sustaining herself mainly on alcohol and pizza. Freya herself is dating someone more mature and is having a few troubles with her relationship. The two old friends are approaching thirty and are spending the week examining their lives in a somewhat early midlife crisis. Produced by Blackshaw Theatre as part of the Wandsworth Fringe 2014, this plot summary is perhaps as serious as this comedy gets with this light hearted take on friendship and growing up.
Structured in a series of short scenes with the script mostly played for laughs, this play by Florence Vincent feels like a sitcom. Set in an ordinary sitting room, designed by Zahra Mansouri with huge comfy sofas and lived-in bookshelves full of beer bottles and take away containers, the audience is close up against the coffee table. This can very well be a female version of Men Behaving Badly, but more obsessed with vag examinations and wrinkles.
The two characters are a classic odd couple double act: Michelle is childlike and dramatic, throwing tantrums and sprouting hyperboles, played with extravagance by Angela Ferns. Whereas the more restrained Clare Harlow’s Freya is motherly and more mature who supervises Michelle’s work and even dresses like an old lady. But their friendship and their commonality show through when they begin to reminisce their teenage years through a diary they made. And under the direction of Ellie Pitkin, both of their naive approaches to life and need for support means their relationship is very much grounded in substance.
While there are moments which threaten to elevate the drama with suicides and marriage proposals, the plot remains subdued. And despite the sometimes clunky dialogue, the two characters are very pleasant company for an hour. It is a very much undemanding and cheerful fly on the wall view of an ordinary friendship.