The Basement Studio until Saturday 26th September
You’ve heard it before. ‘You must meet X, you’d love her, she’s just like you!’
‘I’d love to!’ You lie, immediately hating this other who has made you dispensable.
‘Great, we should all meet up for a drink!’
‘Yeah, we should find a date!’
You never find a date.
This is the sort of conflict that drives CALLBACK: Behind Frenemy Lines, and it is very funny indeed. Two actresses, a couple of years out of drama school, are flatting together (great realistic set), and have been good friends until they are both up for the same part in a sci-fi/ fantasy movie.
Poppy Meadowsong (Lucy Suttor), spiritual, intuitive, into meditation and crystals, approaches her preparation in a zen-like way, exploring the breath, her body’s alignment in time and space to create a vessel that is both energised and unadulterated by any knowledge of the context of the scene.
Amy Miller (Frith Horan), a weight-focused, hard-working, gym devotee, takes the other route, watching old movie versions of the story, getting the books, creating an appropriate costume, and understanding the role inside out.
Both desperately want the part, both, if they get the part, want their friend to be happy for them. Neither know if they can cope if the other one gets the part, whatever they say.
‘It’s fine, babes!’
Yeah, right. As they go through the casting stages, subtly and ever-so-innocently they start to sabotage each other.
It is all brilliantly well-observed. The conflict between the characters builds believably into a satisfyingly silly climax, but it is their inner conflict that is more gripping. Suttor’s hippy may be reaching for a zen-like calm but her gentle vanity (‘Wow’ she says, as she catches sight of herself in the mirror) and driving ambition means there is no way that she can achieve it.
Meanwhile pocket-rocket Amy is determined to get her diet and exercise regime back on track, but can’t help miscounting her reps at the gym and, when she cuts out refined sugars, resorts to eating honey straight from the tub.
It is a danger in female comedy for the characters to overdo the outer conflict at the expense of the inner ones, and in turn become unlikeable. Not so here; both actresses have highly expressive faces, great comic timing and deliver terrific, funny, engaging and truthful performances. Neither lose the sense of who their characters want to be as actresses, but as people too (though they haven’t quite got there yet). The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And so is comedy - this is a great show.