Two

Date 24th June 2022
Society NK Theatre Arts
Venue The Forum Theatre, Romily
Type of Production Play
Director Dawn Wrigley and Maisie Noble
Producer Kirsty Reilly
Written By Jim Cartwright

Report

Author: Steph Niland

Two is a veritable feast for acting chops to get round.  As the title suggests, it’s a two-hander play. Usually, one male and one female actor take on all the roles. It centres around a pub and the warring landlord and landlady incessantly and bitterly quarrelling. The rest of the characters are presented in little vignettes throughout, but the story always returns to these two. A sharp, well observed study of English Pub life, it is touching and poignant and extremely funny.

NK Theatre Arts’ presentation of Two certainly allowed these emotions to shine. Also shining were the two actors Leanne Thorniley and Paul Allison. Their performances could not be faulted, whether they were playing elderly customers or submissive husbands, eccentric telly addicts or jealous partners, the acting was superb and well honed. They embodied each character, all so different but not played as caricature renditions, they were true and well thought out. The physicality, the voice, the expression all astute and intelligently chosen and executed.

It is hard to choose any particular character or moment to discuss because the play was full of wonderful interpretations and funny, moving and awkward moments. The old lady popping in for a drink, a refuge from her having to care for her incontinent husband - how a monologue can be so funny and yet so heart-breaking at the same time. The other elderly character who talks so beautifully about his deceased wife and his own death, such an ambivalent watch, so bittersweet – he's not particularly sad about it himself but it makes us sad to watch – clever performance. The Moth duologue was very amusing as was the Mr and Mrs Iger scene. The section with Roy and Lesley was extremely uncomfortable because it was so well played, the brooding menace of controlling Roy and the tortured shell of Lesley were just excellent portrayals. But the landlord and landlady were just beautifully done. Each section with them built up the backstory brilliantly, so when we get let into the secret tale of the dark and tragic storyline that equally binds them and destroys their relationship and the scene of truths and heart wrenching anguish and blame, the audience are holding breaths except for allowing sobs to escape. The atmosphere was electric – well done!

The venue for NK Theatre Arts is highly adaptable and this play was staged on the floor and the audience raked up and back. This allowed “the pub” to spread into the audience. There were some round pub tables at the front of the stage and audience members were allowed to sit at them. The characters sat with them at points and as we were allowed to bring drinks in and the action was directed at us, it felt truly immersive. The feeling was helped by the fabulous set design team of Dominic Stannage, Stuart Dean, Rob Henson-Brown and Lyndon Hamilton who created a fantastic and realistic set complete with dart board area and working television, optics and beer pumps. Great job.

The direction credits go to Dawn Wrigley and Maisie Noble who did a sterling job moulding two skilful actors into the various roles so genuinely and keeping the action flowing with the minimalist of changes of costumes and entrances and exits. The space was used perfectly and the atmosphere and emotive sections tended to in a considered and perceptive manner- congratulations.

It had everything. Didn’t want it to end. It made us laugh, cry and wince. The ending was flawless and the pace and energy throughout commendable. Great work from all involved – well done!