How could I not want to see a play based on one of the best of Charles Schultz’ Peanuts cartoons?
“Hello Brightline, you’re through to someone you can talk to.”
The end of the world may be approaching but every Tuesday night a dedicated band of volunteers come to the Brightline call centre. They hang up their gas mask and answer calls from the confused, the sad, or the perverted, trying to convince them that everything will be alright.
Frances (Jenni Maitland), the head of the team, is heavily pregnant, but despite signs to the contrary, she believes that so long as they celebrate the small things with doughnuts, everything will be alright. Jon (Andy Rush) is anxious and depressed himself, his work for an insurance company becoming increasingly irrelevant. Angie (Lydia Larson) is chatty and friendly, treating every caller like her best friend (although that’s not the protocol). And Joey (Andrew Finnigan), the newest team member, is just seventeen, doing a work experience placement.
The play drew us in to this climate change / end of days scenario, with people struggling to hold onto normality. Joey reacts with shock to seeing the pregnant Frances. “I haven’t seen a pregnant woman since I was 12 or something,” he says. Jon talks about the reaction of a little girl when he told her family his insurance company wouldn’t pay out for the destruction of their house. Across the country people are holding on to normality, pretending everything is OK, despite the signs of impending collapse which appear in greater number and intensity throughout the play.
The play was performed at the Southwark Playhouse, a small theatre in south London. There were only six rows of seats, so every seat had a good view of the stage, although the legroom in row B (where we were sitting) was a bit tight.
This was a great play, well acted, and in a wonderful small theatre that I wasn’t previously familiar with, but certainly this is a theatre space that I will watch out for in the future.