Student life isn’t going particularly well for Thea (Cecile Durel). She’s struggling to communicate with her flatmate (Olivia Millar-Ross). But worse, she’s being haunted by a ghost from her past (Rebecca Devlin-Knight); a former friend who talks her down, belittling her problems. In a moment of desperation, she calls a crisis helpline but, having misdialled the number, she reaches instead the switchboard of a local newspaper, renowned for its extreme political views.
On the other end of the phone, Cassandra (Victoria J. Valliere) is also tormented by the ghost of a manipulative fiancée (Andrew Fyfe) and her more conservative sister (also played by Rebecca Devlin-Knight). Trapped in a job that is far below her aspirations, Cassandra feels misunderstood, longing for someone to talk to.
What starts as a mistake eventually flourishes into an empowering friendship. The two young women exchange mutual support, whilst some friends and family gravitate around them – including some positive characters who are genuinely trying to help.
A board hanging from the wall is intended to assist the audience with keeping track of the timeline, but, during the changes, it’s often obstructed by the performers. It really doesn’t add much to the development of the play. And a sudden jump from 2019 to 1939 remains rather obscure.
Starting from a very promising storyline, with a wealth of timely topics – mental health, extremism, the power of the arts – and trigger warnings about distressing themes, strong language and swearing, Hello? Hello seems to suffer from the limitations of a reduced running time. The plot remains undercooked whilst the action is static. Significant events are only mentioned in passing, whilst there is a lack of strong lines beyond the circumstantial dialogues of everyday interaction.
Nevertheless, this play is inspired by a lovely sentiment, containing a strong message for all those who struggle with anxiety and who feel isolated. It’s a timely reminder that hope hides in the most unpredictable places and that, if the door is left ajar, someone might pop in to help.
Written and Directed By: Victoria J Valliere
Produced by: Rove St. Productions
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hello-hello
Booking Until: 23 August 2019