There’s significant anger in One of Two; a sense of injustice felt by a young man whose experience of the not-so-subtle cruelties and discrimination endured by disabled people is doubled—not just that experienced directly by himself, but also indirectly impacting on his more seriously disabled twin sister, Bec. As even writer/performer Jack Hunter tells us later, the opening is “a bit intense”, reflecting how “he’s not good on his own”.
Comes with a real confidence about what it wants to say and how it will say it.
Thankfully, there’s also humour; and, although this work is presented as a solo show, Jack’s certainly not on his own this time—his “womb mate” Bec remains a significant presence through pre-recorded audio and video recordings, commenting on and berating him in that all-too-familiar sibling fashion. Developed in association with Summerhall’s Mary Dick Award, Playwrights’ Studio Scotland’s Disabled Playwright Programme, and disability-led Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, One of Two is an authored work that comes with a real confidence about what it wants to say and how it will say it—or, indeed, caption it.
Jack and Bec were born nine weeks premature, and starved of oxygen at birth: as a result, both have cerebral palsy. Not the same kind or degree of cerebral palsy; poignantly, Jack relates how, when they reach secondary education, he feels guilty for escaping the isolation experienced by his sister simply because of “being slightly more able”. As they grow older, he is able to spread his wings, not least by moving on to study drama; Bec, who requires a powered wheelchair to get around independently, is “confined” by the decisions and lowered expectations imposed on her by reluctant teachers.
Jack certainly doesn’t want to be perceived as being an “inspiration”. Because he’s such an engaging performer, you can easily laugh at his threat of physical violence to anybody describing him in such terms. But the anger is definitely there: at the lack of genuinely sufficient support in mainstream schools, the systemic expectation that disabled people should learn to cope, not to succeed. If there’s a lesson for us all, it’s not to accept mediocrity.