Written by Jim Cartwright
Directed by Janet Cooper
NODA Report - 19/10/2021
After eighteen months of lockdown.... do you go to the pub?... or do you go to the theatre? This evening at Tynemouth Priory Theatre, we were treated to both.
Jim Cartwright's play 'TWO', written in 1989, is set in a busy Northern pub, visited by all manner of 'regulars' and hosted by a Landlord and Landlady whose names we never get to know, but whose problems we are all too aware of.
The play lasts for just under 90 minutes, during which time the two pull off a tour de force by playing all 14 characters we meet. Firstly, it is plain that our hosts' marriage is at its end, or practically so. Their bickering behaviour and attitude to one another strains their relationship to its limit. We then meet the pub-goers, who also, have equally more than enough emotional and relationship baggage themselves, which we have to deal with in a very short space of time.
We find out the reason for mine host and hostess' divisions at the end of the piece, and that, combined with the problematic stories portrayed by the others, makes us realise that these are people you would find in any pub, in any town in the country.
The only down-side to the work is, for me, its lack of a thread; perhaps linking the characters and story. But that in no way diminishes its relevance or association which we are all drawn into.
The Priory have to be congratulated for taking on a very difficult piece for their first play back after everyone's long and difficult absence; the challenges of which they all rose to extremely admirably. Janet Cooper directed this two-hander very well; capturing all the pathos, high emotion and comedy the script requires. The two main principals, Jennifer Woods and Alex Swan, succeeded in their character portrayals (and sometimes very quick costume changes!) with aplomb. Their dedication and acting skills shining through triumphantly.
The important bar set; built impeccably well by Robin Cooper, and managed by Stuart Davidson with props by Lesley-Anne Crawford, dressed by her and Chris Carr helped to bring the action to life. A sensitive lighting plot by Tony Hall and complimentary sound design by Andy Gilmore and operated by Matthew Hall also added to the excellence of the production.
Thank you to Ann, and Joint-Chairs Ali and Vicki for your welcome to your lovely theatre. The National President of NODA Gordon Richardson, Regional Councillor Peter Oliver, and myself all had a thoroughly enjoyable night's entertainment. Well done to all involved!
- Ken Allan
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This was my first time in the tiny but lovely Tynemouth theatre.
'Two' is a play set in a northern pub over the course of one evening; It only has two actors who play numerous roles between them.
I've seen similar stripped down performances in the past, including a North Eastern setting for HG Wells' 'War of the Worlds' and six actors playing Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, outside Souter Lighthouse.
One cannot have anything but admiration for the actors who can portray such diverse characters and make them believable, despite clearly being the same person apart from a change of costume.
'Two' is no exception with the two actors playing landlord and landlady, an old man, a young boy, old lady, and some other less likeable characters.
Written in the 80s, the entire play is set in a pub, early evening then after a short interval, towards closing time.
It is not an easy watch due to the tremendous portrayal of one particularly vile character and one downtrodden. But there is some black humour which had me sniggering inside.
Then there is sadness which will resonate with many in the audience.
A grim Northern pub in the 80s reflecting a grim cross selection of society could alas still be set in the 2020s anywhere in the UK. Times change, but people don't and the issues today echo those of the past.
My excitement was tempered by finding out a few hours earlier of the death of someone who had been dead a while before being missed and found, so the play resonated with me about human interaction with each other.
It is a terrific play in a lovely setting with two commanding performances on stage
- Adrian Lee
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A note from a satisfied customer
"Well worth going to see - we saw it on Thursday and thought it excellent and so well acted. These actors are amazing! [x3 hand clapping emojis]"