Numbered Days review: An intense and emotional romance for the modern-age
Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Numbered Days is a new award-winning play from Ryan Leder in his professional playwriting debut. The touring production, which ended its current run at Bromley on 20 April, is an intimate and intense modern romance about two young women struggling with their long-distance love.
Upon entering the theatre, the audience is immediately brought into the action. Oncology student Rebecca (Georgie Cunningham) is anxiously hanging around her bedroom, obviously waiting for someone or something, as we sit down and wait for the lights to dim. The front row is just inches away from Rebecca’s bed, bringing the audience in an awkwardly close intimacy with the main character’s private life.
Rebecca is in a long-distance, transatlantic romance with Irish student Charlotte (Joy Carleton), who has abandoned the Emerald Isle to live Stateside. It soon becomes apparent the pair have never met in person, but have been getting to know each other emotionally and sexually over Skype for some time. Despite their familiarity with each other, there are moments where it’s clear the pair still have a lot to learn about each other. Carefree and confident Charlotte sometimes struggles with Rebecca’s reluctance and insecurity and the looming, never-seen spectre of an over-bearing mother.
Most of the action takes place in Rebecca’s bedroom, with Charlotte projected on a mounted flat-screen television as the couple’s relationship progresses through video calls. There are quiet moments where the action slows and Rebecca is left alone in her thoughts, which really demonstrates the isolation and reality of living so far away from your partner. The scene changes were cleverly accompanied by voiceovers of real-life long-distance lovers talking about their experiences.
Leder’s engaging script really conveyed the intensity and uncertainty of long-distance romance. Cunningham and Carleton put on strong performances and gave honest and realistic portrayals of an inexperienced and awkward burgeoning couple. Despite being a story about a same-sex relationship, their sexuality isn’t the focus of the story and their rollercoaster journey reflects many young relationship experiences. Having had a long-distance relationship myself in the past, I certainly recognised the difficult dynamics of rarely seeing your lover. Cunningham’s emotional speech at the climax of the show really rode home the heart-breaking difficulties of the process. Although I didn’t hold out much hope for Charlotte and Rebecca as a long-term couple, there’s no denying their partnership would be an important and life-changing emotional landmark for the characters whatever the future may hold.
- The Spring tour for Numbered Days is now finished. Follow Theatre In Black on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with their future productions.