Cobblestone Theatre are a new and young theatre company based in Manchester. They presented their first comedy play as part of The Greater Manchester Fringe. After this, the company aim to develop their solid half hour of material into a full length show. This piece has got excellent potential.
Jessica (Jodie Whelan), Louise (Charlotte Darley), Becky (Lucie Jowett), and Lauren (Hannah Drury) are no longer protected under the education bubble. They have finished university, been flung out into the world of work, and got themselves a very small flat. Some of the characters are still living in the student lifestyle: full of drinking, partying, and madness. The others are trying to adjust to the adult world. With barely any money, what better way to celebrate their move in together than by throwing the biggest party ever. Big mistake.
This is a play about friendship, sexuality, and the adult world.
Despite the show being a work in progress, the characters were diverse, developed, and the relationships between them all were clear. Whelan's Jessica was the so-called leader of the girl gang: a lover of theatre, extroverted, but at times irresponsible. Becky, as played by Jowett, was an intellectual, with her reading glasses always by her side. Darley's interpretation of Louise was the organised and responsible one of the house; she was always cleaning. Drury's Lauren was passionately liberal minded, she believed in not putting labels on people.
Written by Whelan, she cleverly considered writing about what relates to her and the company, which made the play realistic. Anything and everything was chatted about in the space of a half an hour flowing conversation: food, men, women, alcohol, sex, sexuality, identity, partying, jobs, money, and responsibilities. Fundamentally, what they created was a realistic representation of young, working class women on stage.
The most notable set piece was half of a couch: which I think unintentionally but appropriately communicated their financial situation. I loved the messiness of the set, the left out booze and the sprawled out clothes (an absolute nightmare for Louise). However, using the stage blocks as stairs wasn't immediately clear and more consideration might be required on how to stage that scene.
Lighting, by Mauric Widdop, made the flat feel hospitable. There was an hint of disco light colours in the design too, giving a flavour of the party to come. So in a good way, when the party almost began in the play, it was a shame it had to end abruptly. I was absorbed in the story.
The Greater Manchester Fringe is a fantastic platform to try out new work and ideas, and there is something to be said about the avid and creative spirit of such an event. This company really embraced that spirit. I look forward to seeing how the characters grow, how the story develops, and how the company evolves.
Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 18/7/18