Entering the theatre for Fingertips, I’ve walked into a flat where a bunch of early-20-somethings have just gathered for pre-drinks before a night out. Some are friends of host Annabel (Hannah Baker), and some are friends of friends. Most have never met each other before tonight; like a typical party, it has potential for success or failure.
The dialogue is unstructured, flowing from drinking games to confessionals. We find out that Emma (Becky Black), an Instagram queen, is dating feisty, boyish Kate’s (Emma Mulkern) ex-boyfriend. A couple of times, people go outside in pairs, an opportunity to learn a bit more about each of those characters. Will (Pete Grimwood) is hitting on Annabel, a fact which Kate notices. Six people initially seems like a lot to have on stage, but to director Natalie Denton and writer Naomi Fawcett’s credit, five minutes into the show each of the characters has established their unique personality.
As the night stumbles along, and they all head out to a club and back, we see how everyone gets progressively drunker. Half the group gets more emotional while the other becomes more aggressive, and personalities clash. At the end of the night – when the drinks are nearly finished and everyone’s insecurities have come to the surface – a photo is uploaded on Instagram, for thousands of nameless, faceless followers to ‘heart’.
Black and Mulkern are both fantastic; their characters are the perfect contrast to one another on the outside, and yet nurse the same weaknesses. Annabel and Lucy are also strong, with great dialogue and niche subplots around peer pressure. The boys’ characters aren’t as well-developed, which is a shame, because there is certainly potential there.
A critique of the staging: if you’re not seated directly in front of the action, then you can’t really see the actors’ faces at significant points in the show. I understand that working around a small set is difficult, but it could have been improved with some more movement and a conscious effort to perform to all sides.
Overall though, this is a great show about the challenges of modern youth. The journey from teenagehood to adulthood is increasingly difficult, and navigating it – with or without friends – is hard. Even if you’re a #dreamteam at that party.