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Review: Two, Theatre Royal Nottingham

On Monday, a group of us braved the cold, stormy weather and attended Longpig’s production of “Two”, presented at the Theatre Royal Nottingham as part of their “Third Stage” season. Longpig is a new Nottingham-based theatre company, and this was the opening night of their extremely ambitious first production, directed by Andy Taylor. “Two”, written by Jim Cartwright, tells the story of an average night in a local pub, as we see the various customers coming and going, and their interactions with the bar staff. The twist? The entire play is performed by two actors (Sylvia Robson and Gary Keane), jumping from person to person seamlessly and creating a play teeming with interesting and eccentric characters.

By far my favourite set of characters were Fred and Alice, a middle-aged couple enjoying a packet of crisps in the pub whilst watching an old film on the telly. Their scene offered some great comedy moments, and both actors were very believable in these roles. The play also contained some very serious and dramatic moments, including the character of Lesley, who is in an abusive relationship with her partner Roy. The way that this scene was portrayed left the audience on the edge of their seats, and the long silence as they left the stage together was incredibly unnerving.

The entire play was performed in the dress circle bar of the theatre, with the actors on the same level of the audience and occasionally interacting with them – one of the characters, Moth, tried to chat up every woman on the front row (even Elise!). Another character, known simply as “Old Woman” earned a round of applause at the end of a monologue about butchers and meat cleavers. The immersive setting was right up our street, and we loved it.

The way that the play is structured means that it is very difficult for two actors to get right – but that was not the case here. From the moment the actors enter the stage, it is very clear who they are meant to be playing. Yes, they had costume changes to help them, but in my opinion, even this wasn’t needed. The two actors were able to completely alter their physicality, voices and movement to suit whoever they were playing and make each character believable and relatable.

The ongoing storyline between the landlord and landlady didn’t come into its own until Act Two, where they got a thoroughly powerful scene at the end of the play which helped bring the night to a shocking conclusion. I won’t spoil the twist, but if you haven’t seen the play before, this scene will knock you for six, and the actors nailed this emotional ending.

A very enjoyable evening of theatre – Longpig are planning to tour this production, with future dates to be announced soon. Check out their website for more information.

Tom Morley, February 2020


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