Upon entering the theatre, the naturalistic set of a bedroom reminded me of a first year Stanislavski “three activities” exercise; a young girl in her early 20s mundanely cleans her pre-set laundry covered floor and seems to neglect the obvious washing-up bin for a wicker bin that looked a lot to me like a rubbish bin.
Numbered days explores the idea of a long-distance relationship and the struggle and misery it involves. Further misery is explored through verbatim recordings of the sufferings of other victims in long distance relationships. It is cute, at least for a very short while. But for the majority, it is an attempt at a play by two mates who don’t think hard enough about what the function of the piece should be. I wasn’t engaged on any level, be it political or social or even humane. Writing and producing a play with as little interesting action as possible while maintaining as dull censorship as everyday life, is not a feasible or effective use of theatre in educating, entertaining or reflecting a message of any kind.
The arch of the story is self-indulgent and hardly innovative, the text is cliché with a flawed conversational attempt. Despite the material being worked on at first, the communication of the text is simple and effective; I do commend Georgie Cunningham playing Rebecca for her commitment to her character, despite being a few hairs from the front row, however, I don’t think enough happens within the text for the character to be interesting enough to actively want to follow.
The monotonous dreary drone of Joy Carleton playing Charlotte is unfortunate as she talks without any clear intention or will to affect who she is talking to. Her movements are irrespective of what she is saying, and she is, once again, self-indulging rather than sharing the story (or lack of story) with the audience.
Eventually when both girls are present in the space, and Cunningham is no longer pretending to FaceTime through a tablet device that looks older than my grandma, it is quite clear that the girls, particularly Carleton, are not listening to each other as the facial reactions are dead and they aren’t giving each other anything real and ‘in the moment’ to play with.
I appreciate what the girls tried to do and think that fringe theatre is hugely important in a fresh actors’ career, however, even fringe theatre should aim to have an impact and tell a story with the intention to secure an audience reaction, whether it be a new perspective on a subject on their way home or a note to self about how they will communicate with a colleague in the future. Both girls Cunningham and Carleton are capable of telling a story, however, the story they are telling lacks impetuous and creative energy.
Numbered Days played at The Cat’s Back Wandsworth from 18 to 19 May
Photo: Theatre in Black