Review: 2AM Phone Call (BATS Theatre)
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
There is a certain rhythmic, hazy quality to being awake at two in the morning. Especially when your reason for being awake at that time is due to difficulties in your life. "2 AM Phone Call", created and performed by Georgia Silk and Natalie Maria Clark, aims to recreate that feeling of restless emptiness between evening and morning, and think about who we go to for support when we really need it in the middle of the night.
A piece about friendship particularly, the narrative drifts between Silk and Clark giving poetic monologues, to scenes in which they are partying and bonding, to scenes of physical theatre, weaving between closeness and distance with limp yet graceful movement. The monologues are usually delivered talking up towards a microphone that dangles from the ceiling (along with several other items including a kettle, a hot water bottle, and a hat), symbolising the difficulty of finding someone to listen to you and then expressing what is on your mind when suffering from insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
The writing, particularly in the monologues, is occasionally comic (especially in Silk and Clark's delivery), beautifully soft ("the night feels more sacred than the day"), and often repetitive. Ideas of spontaneous cooking sessions, dancing alone in a flat, and crying late into the night, and all repeated throughout the show, but that works in its favour. Even these exercises in escapism lose their glamour and become depressingly cyclical.
The way Silk and Clark portray friendship makes it quite unique from any way I have seen it portrayed before; looking at the anxiety surrounding boundaries and support, and the reality that friendship does not move in a Hollywood narrative where you remain soul mates in spite of the world surrounding you. For example, a scene begins with the two drinking and dancing around a living room, and their chemistry is electric, but by the end there is a slight awkwardness. Similarly, in the scenes focused on movement, they are often close but rarely intimate or comfortable. On one hand it works as commentary for not being able to open up to support when times are hard, and on the other it is a painfully honest, even romantic, examination of what it means to have a best friend and the fact that we are rarely as sure in our friendships as we want to believe we are.
Even before the show has begun, you get an impression of the fatigue of being up so late; the exhaustion of ways to kill the time with abandoned notebooks , mugs and beer bottles littering the floor, the meditative sound of waves lapping onto the shore, and Silk's posture with her back on the floor, lower legs resting on an armchair, fiddling with her phone on her belly, evidently after every other position becomes so familiar that she has reached an emotional and physical low. The tone is set to recreate that void throughout the show, and they do so beautifully; through their performances, particularly their movement, the lighting in twilight shades of blue, purple and yellow, the ethereal and often eerie sound design, and the disconnected and repetitive script. "2 AM Phone Call" captures that atmosphere magnificently, and will stay with you after you leave the theatre, go home, and late into the night. Five stars.