Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Phone Whore (a one-act play with frequent interruptions)

Cameryn Moore
Cameryn Moore /Little Black Book Productions
The GM Fringe Festival at The Kings Arms Theatre, Salford
22 July 2015 to 24 July 2015

If Phone Whore isn’t a hit it cannot be attributed to author and performer Cameryn Moore failing to make an effort. She has been walking the Manchester streets promoting the show and greets attendees chatting about other fringe productions and isn’t in the least fazed by punters who show up with a takeaway. You get the impression that Moore could chat all night if the ringing phone didn’t frequently interrupt her.

The opening is an exceptionally successful method by which Moore and director Elizabeth Du Pre subtly introduce the main theme of the play: the absolving power of fantasy. Although she works in the sex industry, inducing callers to orgasm with the tone of her voice and sordid stories tailored to their particular needs, Moore is essentially an actor and storyteller. The tone of her voice when answering the phone is smooth and lilting whereas the speaking voice with which she greets the audience is a brash Yank accent so abrasive it could strip paint.

Moore adopts different characters for each of the four calls taken during the play with gentle changes reflected in her tone and body posture; sitting straighter and speaking in a clipped tone for a caller who requires a mummy figure. It is a mesmerising performance and it is possible to be so impressed by the technique the truly disturbing subject matter could be overlooked. The character adopted by Moore is realistically contradictory; although her professional role is forceful and dominant she takes a submissive role with her real-life partner.

Moore begins with a subdued but cheerful outlook acknowledging the oddities of her clients while refusing to be judgemental. Gradually, however, her justification that, being fantasy, the calls are harmless begins to ring hollow.  As someone out and proud about her sexuality Moore becomes disturbed by the number of callers who are incapable of acknowledging their gay sexuality and instead achieve relief via violent rape fantasies. The extent to which fantasy can be said to be harmless or enabling such self-deception hangs over the play.

It may seem surprising that none of Moore’s tales is in the least arousing. They are simply so authentic that you feel placed in the embarrassing position of a voyeur caught snooping on private matters. Phone Whore goes the distance and does not flinch from the disturbing aspects of pornography - the final phone call is simply revolting. Moore applauds the audience for not walking out; well perhaps not but I did mentally recite song lyrics as a distraction. 

Phone Whore is not a play for everyone; even those with broad minds might blanch at the content. It is, however, an engrossing look at a dark subject featuring a superb performance and a play that cannot be forgotten quickly.

Reviewer: David Cunningham