Serial killers meet 'Pride and Prejudice' in this ADC late showPaul Ashley with permission for Varsity

Penelope Quadrangle and the Meaning of Friendship does what it says on the tin, and it does it superbly. It’s a play about friendship; ever so slightly contrived at times, and occasionally fumbling itself into cliches and overdramatisations, yet, in spite of that, it’s a heart-warming, diligently written and directed performance, and it was exactly what I needed after a rather long day in exam term.

Writer and director Amenie Groves has created a truly enchanting piece of theatre in this play. Taking Bridget Jones as her muse, she has crafted an originally nuanced homage to the lives, loves, and lonelinesses of being a young woman.

“It’s a heart-warming, diligently written and directed performance, and it was exactly what I needed after a rather long day in exam term”

Penelope is stuck in a rut, entrapped by the promise of being a ‘best friend’ to her high-school companion Natalie, played by Abi Green. Unfortunately for Penelope, however, Natlie has changed rather a lot since they were 15, and is now a crazed masseuse-come-serial killer, and in turn, Penelope has accidentally become her crime-scene-cleaner-accomplice. Oops.

Edith Stewart’s performance is testament to the work of a very intelligent casting director. She has mastered the concerned aside, the hesitant grimace, and, of course, the mid murder scene clean-up boogie. She embodies Bridget Jones, without the love interests, or the guts to smoke a cigarette.

“She embodies Bridget Jones, without the love interests, or the guts to smoke a cigarette”

I thoroughly appreciate the lack of love interests; I’ve seen one too many plays in Cambridge about the experiences of young women that end in that cliched, perfectly imperfect, slightly-knotty-but-very-passionate love affair. It’s just not always necessary.

Abi Green’s performance begins by being understated, which does feel an odd thing to say about a blood-thirsty sociopath who staunchly stalks the stage, shrouded in ominous silence. She certainly escalates throughout, however, and by the end has become truly manic.

The audience is enraptured, however, by the masterful comedic timing of Penelope’s alternative friend, Bridget (played by Sameera Bowers). Hot chocolates, Pride and Prejudice screenings, and framing your best friend for mass murder eventually teach Penelope the meaning of friendship. Neat, right? Admittedly the script would perhaps be explicit enough to teach just about the grouchiest of tweens the meaning of friendship, but it is carefully written, genuinely funny, and I felt there was simply no need for it to complicate itself more than that.

“Sameera Bowers’ performance is genius”

Sameera Bowers’ performance is genius. She struts across the ADC stage, exclaiming “oh my days!” repeatedly, and forever forgetting which direction her house is in. Funnily enough, she seems to be absolutely perfect for playing an overly-enthusiastic, wine-loving single mother and secret fan fic creative. Let’s hope Camdram comes up with another opportunity for her to use this particularly niche skill set. The audience love her though, and she makes the trip to the ADC for a late show a complete joy.

I went to see the play with my high school best friend. It made me feel very glad that she hasn’t become a serial killer since we first met. But, this play also made me feel exceptionally lucky to have experienced the beauty and feminist solace of teen friendships.


Mountain View

Salomé will leave you shaken

Admittedly, nothing makes me more upset than an ADC late-show that starts late. But, the cast and crew of Penelope Quadrangle and the Meaning of Friendship are very lucky that my favour, like that of most Varsity hacks, can be rebought by seeing copies of Varsity being used as props on stage. I do hope Sameera Bowers, who played Bridget, enjoyed her browse through our Music section as she waited for her cue.

So what was wrong with Penelope Quadrangle and the Meaning of Friendship? Not much at all. One, maybe two punchlines missed the mark, and they were matched by the very occasional fumbled cue. But this play doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I don’t think we should ask more of it than it promises. It guarantees a good few belly laughs, and an evening out at the ADC that will make you feel quite a lot better after a busy day of revision. Get to the ADC, take a friend, and feel grateful that they’re not a serial killer… hopefully.

Penelope Quadrangle and the Meaning of Friendship is showing at the ADC Theatre at 11pm until Saturday 18th May.