Two by Jim Cartwright

Clueless Theatre makes a remarkable company debut with a production of Jim Cartwright’s Two. As they point out, this is a minimalist production: “No scenery, no props, no sound effects – just the cast, the audience and the script”. In the hands of director Kyle Cluett and actors Debbie Griffiths and Piers Newman, no more is needed.

a seamless production that never loses momentum

Set in a northern pub there are just two stools that form the set, yet the bar itself is vividly created through the repeated mime motifs employed to suggest its parameters and fittings. There is nothing here to detract or distract from the poignancy, humour and directness of Cartwright’s language and it is given full weight by Debbie and Piers in the skilful realisation of the many characters they create. They are well matched in all the roles they assume and in addition to the unique circumstances of each couple or individual they portray, the pair give further life to the customers with an array of appropriate costumes and distinctive accents. The final scene could perhaps be a little more measured but it still packs a powerful punch.

Cartwright gave directors the option of not having a traditional blackout to mark the end of each scene. Kyle has gone with that and in so doing has created a seamless production that never loses momentum, flowing smoothly from one situation to the next with some deft costume changes to match. The action reflects the pace of pub life and flows like beer from the tap.

Beneath the conviviality, superficiality and politeness of serving behind the bar lurks a tragic history, the impact of which manifests itself in the often bitter dialogue between Landlord and Landlady, whose marriage has been suffering as a consequence for several years. They are not alone with their issues, obstacle and difficulties in life. The locals each have a tale to tell and their stories are insight into the trials and tribulations of ordinary folk. Debbie and Piers capture the heartaches and sorrows of these people and with sympathetically nuanced interpretations introduce us to the sad and the funny the lonely and the lustful and the frustrated and the disillusioned, experiencing love in its many forms.

For once, the programmes notes completely live up to expectations: “Each vignette skilfully combines pathos and humour providing the audience with laughter, tears and a thought or two to take home”. This production does exactly that and if you missed your opportunity to grab an emotional take-away this time there are further chances to see it as it does the rounds at Camden and Edinburgh. Cheers!

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Grab yourself a drink, sit back and watch as two actors bring 14 characters to life in a busy Northern pub. This classic two-hander expertly blends together a whirlwind of emotion, questionable customer service and unspoken truths. From the landlord and landlady who despise one another to a shaken (not stirred) cocktail of customers; Two explores love in its many forms and guises.

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