Home » London Theatre Reviews » Numbered Days Upstairs at The Cat’s Back | Wandsworth Arts Fringe | Review

Numbered Days Upstairs at The Cat’s Back | Wandsworth Arts Fringe | Review

Numbered DaysI remember the days when it was difficult, for youngsters who were into love and dating and relationships and all that jazz, to sustain any sort of union for all sorts of different reasons. It would be anything from parental pressure to go for someone better (yes, really) to lack of reliability and dependability. For teenagers, there was the problem created by post-A-level study, as it was unlikely that both parties to a relationship would be studying within commutable distance from one another, let alone the same university. And then social media came along, and the world became, in a way, a global village. Sort of.

Numbered Days portrays the kind of feasible relationship in the modern era – one which, at least initially, takes place entirely online. Charlotte (Joy Carleton) is in London, while Rebecca (Georgie Cunningham) is in California. The latter, originally from Ireland – I only point that out because the character repeatedly does so – proposes to fly over during ‘Spring Break’ to see the former. The details are worked through, almost painstakingly, and over a large number of scenes the show eventually reaches March 2018 (the opening scene is set in November 2017). The conclusion is not exactly something plagiarised from a Walt Disney Company story.

I found myself reading an article in one of the London freesheet papers a little while back – one has to pass the time on Tubes and trains travelling to and from theatre venues somehow. An older columnist asserted that while his generation, of pensionable age, may be considered generally quite miserable, the attitudes and outlooks on life of the younger generations seem to be – again, a sweeping generalisation – even sadder. The scene choices and the dialogue presented here would confirm that assertion – they talk of heading out for the evening, but the audience does not see them actually do so and enjoy themselves. The bickering between the pair starts early on and came across to me as borderline relentless. With no other on-stage characters, it was only broken by frosty silences that were so long it became difficult to maintain interest in proceedings.

There are, of course, plenty of people of any age that are good company. But Charlotte appears to demonstrate signs of a controlling nature when she is upset because Rebecca has plans to go out on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to laugh: it was like telling someone not to get into a car because it might be involved in a road traffic accident. The discerning could tell how this was all going to end up, eventually, one way or another. The exacting standards of the uncompromising can never be satisfied, if you catch my drift.

Of more interest were the voiceovers in between some of the scenes, where other people shared their thoughts and experiences regarding ‘internet dating’. The scenarios described were diverse, and it would have been interesting to hear more about what went on. That said, both actors perform well, portraying convincing characters, even if they are, to be blunt, irritating as hell. It’s a case of schadenfreude, for sure, but I loved it when the reason why Charlotte hasn’t been texting or Skyping or Facebook Messengering Rebecca every five minutes is revealed. (Events, dear girl, events.)

The subtle and intimate performers suit the studio space, though the show could do with some trimming down so that it flows better – must the audience really sit and watch Charlotte watching Rebecca repacking her suitcase and tidying up in silence, for instance? Meanwhile, unfinished sentences and thoughts not fully articulated may be naturalistic, but leaves room for ambiguity, and stunts character development. The narrative is full of first world problems, ultimately, and while I found the complete lack of a single ‘critical incident’ rather refreshing, this production takes a long time to make the point that same-sex relationships still face additional challenges and obstacles than heterosexual ones do.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Rebecca, an oncology student from England, and Charlotte, an Irish fashion student now studying in Los Angeles, met by chance online. As their relationship develops from platonic to romantic, they finally decide to meet in person. However, with life and university schedules getting in the way, that won’t happen for another five months.

Without any knowledge of what the future may hold, Rebecca and Charlotte book a flight and agree to make it work. However, cracks begin to show when issues of trust present new challenges for the relationship. Soon the pressure of their situation leaves Rebecca and Charlotte questioning whether they can hold on for those five months, and if they do, what happens when they inevitably separate again?

‘Numbered Days’ is a stark look at love in the digital age, exploring long-distance/online relationships and questioning whether love really can overcome anything.

Upstairs at The Cat’s Back, Fragility Takeover at Wandsworth Arts Fringe.
Friday 18th May 2018, 9:30pm
Saturday 19th May 2018, 9:30pm
https://www.wandsworthfringe.com/

The Churchill Studio Theatre, Bromley
Sunday 20th May 2018, 5pm
https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/

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