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Make Believe (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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New Century House, Manchester

A girl in a pink ballet dress emerges from a large pink box and proceeds to prance about to the music of Swan Lake.

A banner behind indicates that it’s her birthday and as she gets down to celebrating it, she conjures up, from inside the sofa, a life-size jockey, complete with jodhpurs, silks and helmet; her imaginary friend.

Sounds just a little surreal? Yes, and it becomes progressively weirder as the pair begin to act out a series of adventures, escapades which, it seems, they have been performing every birthday since the girl was five – she’s now 29.

This edgy comedy from actor/writers Luke Walker of Littleborough and Sally Lawton from Haslingden. Both are 24:7 Festival veterans and both take the leads here in their own script.

In real life, they recently discovered, they were born only hours apart, making them 'astral twins', which is the name they have bestowed on their fledgling theatre company. They have also sort-of infiltrated the finding into their play.

Having set up the basic situation – a 29-year-old still firmly attached to her childhood imaginary friend – the script doesn’t find too many places to surprise the audience until the final revelations. The larking about and childish play-acting eventually develop into something close to poignant sense, but it is often not exciting to sit through until it gets there.

- Alan Hulme


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