Date 1st February 2024
Society Tyldesley Little Theatre
Venue Tyldesley Little Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Cameron Rowe
Written By Jim Cartwright


Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

Two By Jim Cartwright is what it says on the packet: two actors - taking on various roles. Set in a northern pub the landlord and lady run a busy pub with all manner of punters that visit - we are treated to a collection of characters Mise-en-Scene. The set comprises of bar centre stage back with optics on the back wall and till on one side, beer pumps the other. A bell for last orders is on the back wall. Two tables and four chairs stage right and left complete with beer mats. On the wall stage left is a juke box and darts board on the back wall. Entrance to the pub is stage Left and upstage Left is louvre double doors into the back of the pub. The pub is painted in muted green and beige. Set Construction is Andy Haymes, Eddie Stanley and Ian Hunter. Set Decoration is Andy Haymes, Peter Hood, Eddie Stanley and Cameron Rowe. Lighting and Sound all helped to set the scene. With a blue wash used before the lights came up and the action started, accompanied by the hubbub of pub noise. Lighting Design Peter Gower, Sound Compilation Paul Whur. Operation Jenny Whur, Jenny Ackerley and Paul Whur.

Costume included quick changes and all worked and looked good. Wardrobe by Cameron Rowe and Company members.

This is the second time Cameron Rowe has directed and he takes on the role as a seasoned pro. His attention to detail is wonderful and I particularly liked the choreography to Kiss By Tom Jones with Art of Noise. There were numerous times where moments were explored and detail added. The pace was particularly impressive and played around with depending on the character. Pause was not feared and there was space for the audience to think about what had just happened and take in and equally sometimes at speed and the comic moments coming thick and fast.  I was genuinely astonished when it was the interval. Never noticing the time.  When a director has a strong vision and the actors take hold of script and characters and run with it, it’s a joy to see.

Cathryn Hughes takes on the roles of The Landlady, Maudie, The Old Woman, Mrs Iger, Alice, Leslie and The Woman. Nicholas Worthington takes on the roles of Landlord, Moth, The Old Man, Mr Iger, Fred, Roy and The Boy. Cathryn and Nicholas work really well together to bring out the characters with pathos. At the beginning we are shown a couple who obviously have serious issues with each other. They keep the banter up with the invisible customers as they take side swipes at each other -sometimes physical. We know something is wrong and this is played through the whole show with the catalyst being the little boy who comes in at the end. Emotions and feelings are poured out and while the clever writer doesn’t make it an everything-is-fine scene, the parting shot delivered by Nicholas’ “I love you” gives you hope that there is a chance for the couple. This was set up beautifully by Cathryn and Nicholas.

The change in physicality these two actors took on shows you how you don’t need prosthetics to age, you can just change your stature. Cathryn as the Old Woman was hilarious and her walk and trying to sit or even stand worked so well. While being funny there was also a sadness about the character having ‘lost’ her husband as she was now his carer.  Cathryn’s speech pattern also changed to match the character. Nicholas as The Old Man had the comfort that he felt his dead wife’s presence and the calm manner in which he spoke helped this character. Maudie and Moth - Moth who thinks he stands a chance with the women with his roving eye. When you get the feeling he wouldn’t know what to do with any other woman than Maudie. The walk and stance of Mrs Iger who just loves big men - the tiny detail in her jamming, her continual put down of Mr Iger, which earned Cathryn a round of applause at the end of her speech.  Nicholas as Mr Iger trying to get a drink at the bar and as he is invisible to everyone, he appeared as if he had shrunk in size. One of the most unsettling things was to watch Roy and Leslie - we hear of domestic violence and coercive control, but to witness it is shocking. Watching Nicholas as Roy’s simmering anger and constant contradictions was uneasy, the atmosphere definitely changed. Cathryn with Leslie’s submissiveness was equally uneasy and sad to see. When she finally blows you do a little cheer inside only to have that come crashing down. Fred and Alice happy in their own little world, although the ‘white room’ is mentioned are probably the happiest and know what they want, even if it is spotting their favourite extra in films.  The characters pace was excellent.  I think Tyldesley Little Theatre can be very proud of this extraordinary piece of drama and the three that created it: this was one of those times you felt something special has just happened and you were lucky to have been there to see it.

Thank you for the invite and hospitality from my guest Matthew and I.

Liz Hume-Dawson