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Call Me (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Workmates Natasha (Sarah Adams who wrote the play), Cheryl (Christine Clare) and Clare (Sophia Hatfield) use telephone and text messages to establish or repair relationships. Desperate, they turn to love-guru Sandy (Rachel Priest) for help. Meanwhile, Jenny (Laura Cope) and Mike (Matthew Stead) become more than just friends.  
Writer Adams ambitiously crams so much into the single Act play that some elements are reduced to narrative devices. Sandy becomes the catalyst that brings the trio to a cathartic resolution and Jenny and Mike demonstrate that a relationship does not end problems just creates different ones.
Still, it is better to have too many ideas than too few and Mike Heath’s lean direction ensures that the whole thing makes sense and that substance is not replaced by style. The early scenes, which jump from each character, could become bewildering without his clarity.
Adams excels with hilarious situations, sparkling dialogue and vivid characterisation. Call Me! is one of those rare plays where all the characters have redeeming features and so are likeable.
The cast fill out the characters; the skilled interpretations of Clare and Hatfield emphasise the warmth and vulnerability of Cheryl and Clare who could otherwise be seen as a slapper and a strident workaholic. Adams shows the charm beneath   Natasha’s eccentricities.
Anyone hoping that Call Me! will be the new Closer is going to be disappointed but audiences looking for a warm and very amusing play are in for a treat.
- Dave Cunningham

(Reviewed at Joshua Brooks, Manchester)

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