Two actors playing fourteen characters in a northern English pub; Jim Cartwright’s award-winning script is the star of the show.
Cartwright is best known for the film ‘Little Voice’ which stared Michael Caine, Ewen MGregor, Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent; and based on his play ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ which he wrote in 1992. His other award-winning hits include ‘Road’ and ‘I Licked A Slag’s Deodorant’.
First performed in 1989 and originally named ‘To’, ‘Two’ is about couples on a single night in a public bar, so is aptly set in the Directors Hotel amongst the patrons / audience.
The two actors assume seven personalities each, aged from seven to 87 years. The first is an old lady, worn out by the strain of caring for her invalid husband. Her only comfort is a Guinness and her crush on the butcher. She is followed by ladies-man Moth and his long suffering girlfriend Maudie. An endearing pensioner Pops is “having a good time within” as he fondly remembers his dead wife. A lady with a fascination for big men; and her small husband, too cowardly to order at the bar. A bully intimidates and humiliates his wife. The happiest couple, living a simple life in community care making up names for film extras and speculating on what killed Elvis. The ‘other woman’ who turns up drunk and desperate to confront her lover and his wife. On closing time, a tearful little boy left behind by his dad forces the husband and wife publicans to come to terms with the death of their only child on this, the seventh anniversary of his death.
Director Michael Hill made good use of the set designed by Cassandra Backler with the audience being amongst the action. Some more than they realised if they bought a drink from the bar upon arrival, as they discovered after the show started it was part of the set and they were served by the actors! The various characters walked about the tables with friendly banter and even collected up glasses – “no not the ones on your face love!”
Evan Bassani and Daniel Brunner’s original score was appropriate and was controlled by Stage Manager Jess Nash with lighting that was some times a little slow.
Taking on such a diverse range of characters in quick succession requires masterful acting and Tim Overton and Renee Gentle mostly got there. Renee’s accent was good but didn’t vary between characters. The quick-change costuming might have gone more smoothly if they’d each had assistance. Some of the movements were clumpy or unnatural, such as drinks put back in awkward spots to allow for the next scene. Generally it didn’t quite flow.
Two actors playing all the characters rules out interactions between the different couples but has the advantage of allowing the audience to concentrate on each mini-story and makes this play exceptional.
Junglebean Theatre presents
by Jim Cartwright
Venue: Upstairs at the Directors Hotel, 247 Gouger Street, Adelaide
Previews: Oct 28 & 29 @ 7:30pm
Season: Oct 30, Nov 2-6, 9-13 @ 7:30pm
Tickets: Adults $20/ Concession $18/ Preview $12 + $1.10 internet booking fee
Bookings: www.dramatix.com.au | 0431 996 065 | at the door