Tickets £6 for one or £10 for ‘two’ tickets
Essential Theatre in association with Giant Olive presents
Two by Jim Cartwright
Lion and Unicorn Theatre
42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London, NW5 2ED
Please quote ‘Two Deal’
Only valid at the box office at the Lion and Unicorn.
Runs from Tuesday 9th to 21st June
(Excluding 15th, 16th, 18th, 20th)
Joe Shefer gives us a moving portrayal of a very old man who is still living with his dead wife - not physically or in a ghostlike fashion, but in his mind - a control freak who suspects his wife of "looking" at other men and also plays a seven year old boy who has lost his father. Moth is the local pub Lothario who cannot resist making passes at all the women in the room behind the back of his would be fiance Maudie. Maudie is the one who holds the purse strings and Moth finds endless ingenious ways of making her part with them!
Samantha Joyce's most memorable and telling performances are as the woman who loves big men like Hercules "You think they'll never die" but is lumbered with a weakling who takes hours getting at the bar; and as the forlorn mistress who is watching her lover chatting affectionately with his wife.
Both these actors have the versatility needed for this play and they work well together. Director Emma Blundell has managed to squeeze every ounce of meaning from the text which is funny, moving and tender by turns with occasional notes of high drama. A gamut of emotion for both the audience and the characters on stage.
If two’s company then Essential Theatre Company deserve a crowd for this production of Cartwright’s brilliant bittersweet comedy.
This play is named after the number of its cast members which means that enormous skill is required to deliver everything the script demands. Lucky then that Joe Shefer and Samantha Joyce are more than capable.
They glide through this densely wordy piece with ease, maintaining both pace and energy, delivering jokes and dolour with equal finesse. Shefer has a beautiful subtlety to his facial expressions which allows him, not only to slip effortlessly from one character to the next, but also to communicate all the layers these characters encompass. Joyce matches Shefer’s skill with an ability to draw the audience in and make them identify intently with the vast emotions she accurately presents.
Nonetheless, the reason Shefer and Joyce are so effective on stage is their intuitive sensitivity to the rhythms of the text. They rattle through the staccato meters of the lines like cadences in a percussion symphony; bringing the comedy to the fore with superb timing and then crashing to a halt for dramatic pauses that leave the audience holding their breath with tension.
The breakdown may come at the end of the play but it is signified throughout by the set - a thoroughly authentic looking bar disintegrates into wreckage at one end - a portent to future events. The bar is the only article of set which does not come in a pair. The rule of two runs throughout the excellent set design (Louis Valenzuela) which is minimal but during the action becomes littered with props left behind in the pub by the characters who visit.
This idea is a very effective device by the imaginative and insightful director Emma Blundell. Similarly, her costume choices and, particularly, her use of colour show her judgement and artistry. Her unusual choice of L - shaped audience seating arrangement caused occasional blocking issues and sometimes felt clumsy but it does put the bar of the pub where it belongs - at the centre of focus.
A sharp and touching slice of English life set in a Northern Pub owned by a savagely bickering husband and wife. Two is a series of short vignettes that skilfully combines pathos and humour, with all fourteen characters played by two actors. During the course of the evening assorted customers pass through including a little boy left behind by his father - an event which triggers a movement towards a fragile reconciliation between the pub couple, as their own dark tragedy is revealed.
Two is written by award winning playwright Jim Cartwright whose other plays are consistently performed around the world and have been translated into twenty languages and include Road and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice upon which the film Little Voice was based.