Two – review by David Bithell
By Jim Cartwright
Directed by Ruth Carney
Behind the bar of their northern pub, the Landlord and Landlady welcome their regulars with open arms. Lending an ear for stories of celebration, of loss, of love and of despair, the bickering couple work together to keep the locals in high spirits – with drinks, conversation and laughter.
But what is their story? As a lost boy turns up on their doorstep looking for his Dad, the couple must confront their own demons and perhaps, for the first time in years, talk to each other…
Performed by two actors playing all 14 characters, Jim Cartwright’s poignant play takes audiences into the world of one working-class pub over the course of one night. Weaving together rich stories full of human emotion, this dark-comedy gives an intimate insight into a variety of characters and will make you laugh, and cry, in equal measure.
From the moment you enter the auditorium, you are greeted with a fantastic pub setting. The bar takes centre stage, and there is a live jukebox, that allows you to choose your own music. Most of the fixed front row of seats have been replaced with bar stools and tables. Shortly before the show started, the pub landlord, played by Jimmy Fairhurst encouraged you to get a “free drink” at the bar and it is clear to see the ale “on the house” is Titanic, which is a fantastic nod to Stoke on Trent’s very own brewery.
Onto the play, from the onset you get the feeling that the new landlady and landlord are a couple but due to the pressures of running a pub and managing their relationship away from their daily job you sense all is not well with their marriage.
What is unique and certainly impressive about this play, is it is acted out by only 2 people who are playing 14 characters. As the play moves on at a quick pace, you get to meet all different types of people. The elderly gentleman who has the same drink and probably sits at the same table, the young and free couple with a man with a roaming eye for the ladies, the geeky type couple, the abusive husband and controlling relationship and much more. You get to hear all their stories throughout the play.
What I also liked about this play, was not only the impressive acting of both Jimmy Fairhurst and Samantha Robinson, the stage, the direction by Ruth Carney and the TV screens dotted around the stage that gave hints and glimpses into how the story was panning out. I also loved how the actors tried and did well with the hard to mimic Stokie accent.
With some plays you sometimes feel it is dragging on, but with this one, it felt just right and you leave the theatre with a bittersweet tear, it certainly takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.
Two, runs at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme until Saturday 22nd February 2020.
For tickets contact the box office on 01782 717 962 or alternatively email [email protected]