Two – Theatre at the Tabard review

Image above: Claire Louise Amias and Greg Snowden in Two

A snapshot of humanity – a pleasure to watch, which left me wanting more

Reveiw by Simon Thomsett

The landlord and landlady of a busy northern pub serve drinks, snacks and pleasantries to their customers and bicker with each other while they do so.

That bickering sounds at first like that of any long-married couple but theirs has an edge and sounds as if there may be something more behind it all. That something will be revealed later in Jim Cartwright’s 1989 play, Two, now running in a welcome revival in the Theatre at the Tabard.

Two was written early in Jim Cartwright’s career and, along with his equally celebrated Road, applies a poetic and no-frills narrative centred on working-class lives.

Image above: Claire Louise Amias and Greg Snowden in Two

Two was written to be performed by just two actors and Nick Hennegan’s  Maverick Theatre production benefits from nuanced and heartfelt performances by Claire Louise Amias and Greg Snowden who between them play 14 characters in a series of interlinking scenes taking place over the course of one evening.

Customers come and go, share their stories, look for a sympathetic ear or just a way to cadge another drink, in a series of vignettes, snippets of lives that are variously joyful, sad or reflective.  It is frequently funny, occasionally heart-breaking, sometimes frightening and always sincere.

This is a play that cares about its characters, flaws and all.  It is a play that has aged well, although a scene focusing on domestic abuse may perhaps seem over-egged to a modern audience more attuned to the signs of coercive control, but that is a minor quibble.

Overall, the effect is remarkably affecting and Richard Woolnough’s tight direction holds our attention and allows the play room to breathe.  It is a confident production, the set is minimal but effective, its setting on the Tabard stage looking like it has always been there.

Special mention should be made for the clever use made of subtle lighting and sound effects, both by Sandra Szaron.

Amias and Snowden spark off each other in their scenes together, then move seamlessly between characters as the evening in the pub wears on. It is a snapshot of humanity, a pleasure to watch and left me wanting more. Highly recommended. Runs until Saturday 29th April.

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.