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Call Me

Sarah Adams
Slice Theatre Company
Joshua Brooks, Manchester
(2011)

Call Me is a one act comedy about three women and their search for love in a modern urban setting. All three have catastrophic romances which we see reflected in their texts and phone calls. Natasha is so love-starved and neurotic that when a man drops satsumas in the supermarket she thinks he wants her. Clare is dropped by text but proceeds to harangue her ex in an increasingly frenetic and ineffective series of attempts to confront him. Cheryl leaves a lengthy drunken phone message for her boyfriend which she backs up with a series of texts and pictures with disastrous consequences. The three suspend their search and unite to attend a "Love Yourself to a love life worth loving" workshop run by the slightly dotty Sandy Morris. All of this is contrasted with the quirky and touching unlikely romance between two best friends: Mike and Jen.

The scenes are mostly very short, cleverly using the very restricted pub space. The settings are minimal with a few chairs and tables multitasking for the homes, offices and socialising locations.

The three main characters all teeter on the edge of breakdown but made a great connection with the audience who enjoyed the farcical comedy of the situations which are described in retrospect. These are three desperate women and so it is perhaps not surprising that once they start to be less uptight in their conscious search for love that they begin to be more successful in finding it.

Some of the comedy comes from the earnest way that Sandy (an endearingly ethereal Rachel Priest ) tries to engage with the women. She furiously balances chakras or alternatively gets them to chant to discover who they really are while they reveal even more of their chaotic attempts at getting close to the men they fancy. One of Clare's lines where she says she wants to be wooed reminded me of the exchange in a Carry On Film where the rejoinder is you can be as wooed as you like.

Most of the cast have been trained in Manchester-based drama schools and are all talented performers. Christine Clare as klutzy Cheryl and Sophia Hatfield as control freak Clare both gave fine comic characterisations. Perhaps the stand out was Sarah Adams as Natasha whose brilliant solo riffs bordered on the absurd. Adams also wrote the perceptively scripted and hugely funny piece and her comic timing was the most effective. Special mention also for lone male performer Matthew Stead as Mike who got a huge laugh when he offered his bemused girlfriend Jen - a wonderfully natural Laura Cope - a jar of jam for them to enjoy rather intimately.

Director Mike Heath extracts every ounce of comedy from the hour-long play and on this entertaining offering, the Slice Theatre Company are well worth tasting.

Reviewer: Andrew Edwards