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Review: Numbers, CTC Ipswich, The Avenue Theatre, Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 November 2018

Cameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr, Beth Shave and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr, Beth Shave and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Mike Kwasniak Photography, 2018 - www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

Named one of the best plays of all time for women, this was the right choice and the right time for the company to show it can do straight drama.

Cameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

CTC’s reputation for big musicals is well-known, but could it focus that bravado into something smaller, tighter yet still as satisfying? The answer, for the most part, is definitely.

Kieron Barry’s one-act play is billed as Mean Girls meets Lords of the Flies. A vicious battle of wills breaks out between four sixth formers at an all girls boarding school the hour before a new head girl is announced.

Friendships and loyalties are tested as ambition leads to betrayal. The disputed role is just the catalyst for the girls to show their true colours when it comes to class, privilege, morality and how far you go to fit in. The play is hilarious with verbal barbs zipping to and fro from the get-go. As it progresses things become brutal as the tension between the four escalates. What once was funny, is now uncomfortable. By laughing, you’re complicit in their behaviour.

Despite regular gasps from the audience, I wonder if that mounting malice could’ve been pushed a tad more at times. Some added venom, more coldness could’ve sold some lines a bit better but I’m being picky because I know this is a company that relishes making bold choices.

Lucy Stokes, Cameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKLucy Stokes, Cameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Director Madeleine Mears gets great performances from the cast who attacked the material with gusto.

Livvy Campbell-Barr was great as supposed shoo-in for head girl Katherine, whose perfect life crumbles. Cameron Jarrold as Isabel was a great foil for her. Lucy Stokes as Jennifer showed sharp comic awareness.

Beth Shave as kind-hearted Hetty may not have got the lion’s share of the best lines but her quiet, resillient performance was the heart of the piece. Her one act of defiance showing she, Katherine, Isabel and Jennifer may not be as different as they all think.

The cleverly choreographed cacophany of overlapping conversation was handled well. There were some first night stumbles but it actually worked for the piece; who in real life gets everything right when stressed?

Cameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr, Beth Shave and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold, Livvy Campbell-Barr, Beth Shave and Lucy Stokes in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

A smart play probably more relevant than ever, executed almost flawlessly. CTC continues to be one to watch.

Lucy Stokes, Cameron Jarrold, Beth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKLucy Stokes, Cameron Jarrold, Beth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Beth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKBeth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold, Lucy Stokes and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold, Lucy Stokes and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold and Beth Shave in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold and Beth Shave in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Lucy Stokes, Beth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKLucy Stokes, Beth Shave and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold, Lucy Stokes and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold, Lucy Stokes and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold and Beth Shave in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold and Beth Shave in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Cameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCameron Jarrold and Livvy Campbell-Barr in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Lucy Stokes and Cameron Jarrold in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKLucy Stokes and Cameron Jarrold in Numbers Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

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