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Review: Call Girls at the Big Fork Theatre - Fringe Brisbane

Review by Carly Fisher

Call Centre life is not for the faint of heart and new comedic duo Lauren Harvey and Kelly Hodge bring this reality to the stage in their new show for Fringe Brisbane, Call Girls.

Set within the offices of the transport and road services department, the two friends navigate a busy call board, inane questions from callers and, more poignantly, abuse from them too, an office environment just waiting for a sexual harassment suit and personal changes that they are both excited for and yet not too confident about…and it all takes place within one work day. Just a day in the life!

This being my first time at the Big Fork theatre, it was great to see the staging efforts that Hodge and Harvey have made to spice up this great little black box theatre and really help you imagine their world. They utilise the available entrance and exit points on the small stage cleverly and with the exception of one momentary lapse where they have staged a scene on the floor, they generally play well to the knowledge that without raked seating, their levels are critical to the engagement of the audience as a whole for the simple issue of site lines. It is a small thing but done incorrectly, can be so frustrating for those beyond the first row. Featuring two matching desks that are well appointed with laptops, phones, personal items and more, posters on the wall, pot plants, a rug and more, the set was perfectly designed for this fringe performance!

The writing is strong and that is the biggest win of this production. Everyone knows heading into fringe festivals that there will be some hits and some misses and to be honest, the premise of this show could have you thinking it could go either way. Harvey and Hodge offer a script full of fast paced dialogue, relatable content and clever interactions with each other and with those on the phone. There was certainly opportunity to delve further into some issues raised, like a large toxins problem that the department had no crisis management plan for that was raised and only very briefly touched on…there is a lot more room for this plot point to develop further. That aside, the pace is executed with precision and the relationships established are authentic and detailed.

Both Harvey and Hodge deliver strong performances as best friends though polar opposites, Alexis and Ella. Both writers/producers/performers come to the show with personal experiences of having worked in call centres before and the influence of this is clearly not lost as both offer truthful performances and well rounded characters. Young on the scene, I anticipate we will see a lot more from Harvey and Hodge as both writers and actors.

As Alexis, Harvey’s comedic timing was perfect. With a nonchalant attitude towards her work and a keen focus on her young and increasingly blossoming social life, Alexis’ trajectory is perfectly unexpected and allows Harvey to show her range more as a comedic actor. As Ella, Hodge brings a more meticulous character to life who, though we can see is diligent, focused and clearly good at her job, also offers a sweet little twist through her story.

For me, the only points that seemed unnecessary were the blackouts that interrupted the pace and the lighting that, though limited, was occasionally a bit too intense and honestly, random, namely the harsh reds. I think that this could be stripped back to aid the flow of the piece better...the show doesn't need great lighting tricks and they don't work all that well in the space.

Call Girls is most certainly a fringe show - would it have a big life outside of that environment, probably not without further development. That said, do I hope to see this show take on the Australian fringe scene…absolutely!! Fingers crossed this one tours - it definitely deserves its place amongst next year’s Fringe Fests!!

Image Supplied


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