Ten in the morning is perhaps a bit early for teenage angst, but Tablespoon Theatre manage to grab the attention of even this grumpy and sleep-deprived reviewer with their skilfully written short play about unrequited love and uncertain sexuality.
Jessica Paris’ script is ambitious, and the large (for a Fringe show) cast struggle for elbow room in such a small performance space, but the production has been well thought out and faultlessly rehearsed, the staging imaginative and creatively conceived and the narrative jumps easily from party scene to kitchen sink and back again, flawlessly traveling in time as the story unfolds.
Jorja has abandoned a party and – apparently – her scuzzy boyfriend, Ian. Sitting in the dark in an apartment littered with fast food wrappers and discarded drinks cans, her besties intervene and a tale of Tinder dating, sexual shenanigans and unrequited longings finally emerges. Synopsised like this it sounds a bit like an episode of Hollyoaks or a near-the-knuckle teen movie, but there is much more to this drama than that and Paris’ script has some beautifully-crafted dialogue and unexpected and cleverly written humour.
The show gets a hesitant reception this morning from a small audience who look suspiciously like mums and dads, but the production has the potential to grow and build to full houses over the length of its run.
In the way of tiny criticisms, the company would do well to review their tech as some of the dialogue is drowned out by the background music in the party scenes, and Liam Grimaldi, the sole male performer in an otherwise strong all-female cast, needs to arrest his part and be more present in his role – at the moment he’s coming across as a rather bland and shadowy figure rather than the sleazy nerd that the script would appear to specify. However, there are good performances from Gioia de Martino and Caitlin Carrick-Varty as the two leads, and overall it’s an excellent ensemble effort.