Spies Like Us are an award-winning physical theatre company that formed in 2017. Speed Dial, written by Ollie Norton-Smith, Hannah Lloyd Barnes and Joe Large, was first performed at the VAULT festival in 2020 as a work-in-progress. Now it’s at the Edinburgh Fringe for the entire month.

Set in the 1970s, Speed Dial takes place on a university campus, following a Professor (Hamish Lloyd Barnes) who is waiting for an important phone call. Soon he finds himself in the midst of a nightmare, where he must solve cryptic puzzles which stand between him and his missing daughter Flora (Genevieve Sabherwal).

The uniqueness of this production is in its use of dance, which is simply mesmerising to watch. Choreographed by Zak Nemorin, the movements are slick and in-sync throughout.

Their use of props is effective. There is a desk and door which are used throughout the show in different settings, and these transitions are seamless. Then there is the use of multiple, multi coloured rotary phones. When one person is speaking to another on the phone, the cast create a phone line from one to the other. The visual storytelling of this show is phenomenal, but also done in a way which means we’re able to focus on the dialogue simultaneously.

Two of the cast took on two roles – Sabherwal plays both Flora and Lucy and Elle Dillon-Reams plays both the Groundskeeper and Willis. Dillon-Reams made both characters distinctly different, performing different accents for each person. However, I felt that occasionally it was difficult to distinguish between Lucy and Flora as there were not enough differences between the performances by Sabherwal. This led to some confusion over which character she was portraying at times.

Eager student Terri is played exceptionally well by Evangeline Dickson, her comedic timing is impeccable. All five members of the cast are excellent in their delivery of the script. Together the cast are captivating. But the best performances for me come from Dickson and Tullio Campanale who plays The Dean. Both provide faultless comical performances.

Speed Dial is unlike anything I have seen before. The plot is a great thriller with many twists and turns, and puzzles galore. The use of movement is what makes this production really shine. With some further fine tuning, this production will be a hit and I’m so excited to see where this show goes next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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