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Review of Biting Block Theatre’s ​Catching Up at TheatreN16

Catching Up: Credit Elle de Burgh
Catching Up: Credit Elle de Burgh

Best friends at Uni, the cool and collected Becka nursed the needy and naive Flo through three years of Spanish at Bristol, clearing up her sick, paying off taxi drivers and always ‘being there’ for her vulnerable buddy. But did she really see Flo as a human being; or as an acolyte, a posture to better display her gilded ego? A working-class chum as the perfect fashion accessory for the poor little rich girl.

Because back in London post-graduation, on opposite sides of the river and very living different lives, the two hardly see each other. Becka walked straight into a luxury flat and good job, thanks to family connections and cash. Flo struggled badly until she found an unlikely saviour in an older man. But has she been rescued or fallen under the spell of another weak and needy bully?

Fast forward twelve months, and an apparently innocent invitation to catch upon Friday evening over wine turns into an emotive standoff over the hidden agendas of both protagonists. Cat Robey directs with a sure hand and keeps the work on its feet, the pace and brisk and engaging.

Both Emily Schofield as Flo and Octavia Gilmore as Becka give powerful and nuanced performances of complex characters, comic timing is pin-sharp, and the piece shows its Ed Fringe pedigree.

Becka, stranded in an extended adolescence of entitlement, finds that Flo is not the pushover she once was. Damaged and vulnerable she may be, but Flo has learned adult lessons of actions, consequences and responsibilities, that have passed Becka by. The tension mounts as the events of the last year are exposed and their friendship tested as never before.

The work relies on multiple reveals to sustain dramatic tension, and at each turn, a little more of the true nature of the characters comes out. And whilst our sympathy swings to and fro between the pair, the characters become more sharply defined but do not change. There is an exposition of backstory but no real plot within the drama presented. The reveals become repetitive and the piece begins to sag, despite the strong performances.

The piece was produced and written by the performers, who themselves met at University, and their observation of millennial post-graduate life is authentic and accurate; but limited. Perhaps they are too fond of the engaging characters they have created to really put them through the wringer.

A work worth checking out from a young and talented new company.

4 stars

Review by Laura Thomas

They’ve held each other’s hair back in club toilets, squeezed each other’s back spots and shared their deepest secrets. Becka and Flo know everything about each other… at least they think they do. When their catch up takes an unexpected turn, they discover that their lives are more entangled than they could have ever imagined. Shocking revelations spark betrayal, manipulation and sinister revenge. Through the unravelling of this friendship, Catching Up explores what it means to be female in the 21st century and asks: can a woman ever have it all?

Biting Block Theatre presents Catching Up
A one act play by Octavia Gilmore and Emily Schofield

Theatre N16
15-17th & 21-24th May
TheatreN16
5 Ashley Road, Tottenham, London, N17 9LJ

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