What's your tipple? Pint of lager and a packet of cheese and onion crisps? How about an evening being transported to the White Oak pub where you will meet an eclectic mix of characters portraying the best and worst sides of society?
Two is an entertaining piece which will leave you feeling warm as you relate to the characters who you feel you already know.
We meet 14 characters all played by two actors, Debbie Griffiths and Piers Newman, who seamlessly switch from the pub landlords to the various frequenters of the pub. As you sit and meet the different characters, Griffiths and Newman invite you in as the pub landlords with their energy immediately bursting on to the stage. You are instantly drawn into the world of a pub up North and you feel an onlooker into the lives of the local community there. Kyle Cluett’s direction has the two actors weaving in and out of the audience, interacting with us as if we are other locals sitting in the pub. This worked well and received warm smiles from the audience, particularly when we meet Moth the loutish boy who is filled cheesy chat up lines. These received huge laughs from the audience as Moth chose girls as his prey to sweet talk into giving him money for his next drink at the bar.
The production was minimalistic, using only two bar stools and costume pieces for each character and this simplicity allowed the actors to permeate the stage with their finitely detailed performances. The acting in this piece was spot on, both Griffiths and Newman bound around the stage with an energy which keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. As the play started the actors' northern accents were convincing and natural, which they impressively both kept up throughout the show and never dropped. You could see the work that had gone in to differentiating each character by adding subtle changes to the tone and rhythm of their voices.
I was entertained during the show and enjoyed the intimacy of meeting the characters, expertly written by Jim Cartwright, so close up. However, I felt the miming of the pub duties, such as pulling pints and lifting the bar latch, by the pub landlord characters became exasperating and undermined the work of the actors, who were talented - the gestures pulling away your focus from the emotional heart of the piece. When the final climax came at the end of the play it failed to hit the emotional intensity needed to pull off the big reveal when the secret is shared about the pub landlord's son. Despite this, overall, Two is an entertaining piece which will leave you feeling warm as you relate to the characters who you feel you already know. I would recommend catching it before the run ends in Brighton on 28th May. The actors leave you feeling comforted by the intricacies of life and the people that make up the tapestry of our country.