Character – Tristan Bates Theatre
I really wanted Character to be good. I thought the story of two women locked away with a crate of wine and bucket full of unresolved issues sounded like a recipe for hilariousness. But it just wasn’t to be.
The writing has some moments of accuracy and at points it feels like Florence Vincent has really captured the easy familiarity that a long female friendship can create, but unfortunately these are few and far between. There are too many plot holes to be realistic and just as something interesting is being unveiled, the dialogue slumps into melodrama and shock-jock tactics. Too often the script relies on the contrast between the ‘salt-of-the –earth’ northerner and the eccentrically bohemian posh girl with no character development.
Unfortunately, because of these script issues, the actors aren’t given a great deal to work with. Angela Ferns as Michelle is given just enough character ticks to make her watchable but Ferns frequently overplays her hand to emulate Professor Trewlany in Harry Potter. Contrasting this flighty-ness is Freya, a hardworking, straight shooting northerner played by Claire Harlow. Again, there is only so much Harlow can do with this role as the plot frustratingly skips over the moments of engaging fragility in her performance.
Turning the Tristian Bates Black Box space into a cosy cottage hideaway was never going to be an easy feat but Zahra Mansouri manages it well with just enough odds and sods lying around to reflect Michelles’s messy state of mind. Alas, a few basic errors are made that become niggling distractions, yet with a stronger script these could have been overlooked for gripping drama.
In all honestly I had real high hopes for this production but I was left feeling disappointed and surprisingly frustrated with the handful of excellent moments failing to make up for the bulk of the script.
Reviewed by Roz Carter