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Split review at Vaults, London – ‘warm, witty and nostalgic’

Emma Pritchard and Tamar Broadbent in Split at Vault Festival, London Emma Pritchard and Tamar Broadbent in Split at Vault Festival, London

Time for some noughties nostalgia. Emma Pritchard and songwriter-comedian Tamar Broadbent’s new play Split follows the growth of two high-school girls’ friendship from shy Year Seven small-talk to inseparable Year 11 BFFs, all against a flashback-inducing soundtrack of Fall Out Boy and Flo Rida.

Developed from a series of short comedy sketches, Split sees Ellie (Broadbent, bubbly) and Charlotte (Pritchard, taller, more nervous) bond over packed lunches as awkward 11 year-olds, compare blow job techniques on a deodorant can as teenagers, and argue over boys as stressed-out GCSE students.

In between these scenes, Pritchard and Broadbent harmonise neatly over noughties classics – they do a particularly lovely rendition of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars.

There’s real joy in the detail of director Sara Joyce’s production. Gel pens, dance machines, and sneakily swigged tinnies of Foster’s, whispered games of Would You Rather and giggly confessions of crushes. Pritchard and Broadbent catch all the pressures and pretences of adolescence in their dialogue, too. There’s something cuddly and authentic about all of it.

But there’s something more at work here than just rose-tinted reminiscence. Pritchard and Broadbent also slip in some astute observations about kids and their attitude towards class. It’s in the little things – the jarring use of the word “pikey”, the social status of having a trampoline – and in the bigger ones that form the play’s eventual emotional nub.

Split trades more on warmth and wry laughs of recognition than outright hilarity, but it’s a charming portrait of teenage female friendship.

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A warm, witty and nostalgic portrait of teenage female friendship in the early noughties