DramaNorth WestReview

Two 2 – Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Writer: Jim Cartwright
Director: David Thacker
Reviewer: Malcolm Wallace


Following on from the conclusion of the Octagon’s brilliant revival of Jim Cartwright’s classic play Two, the theatre now presents the world premiere of the sequel, Two 2.

Set several years after the conclusion of Two, the play rejoins the Landlady and Landlord at another time of crisis for their business and their marriage with the play following a very similar format (and remarkably similar finale) to the original. Scenes between the principal characters are interspersed with snippets into the lives of the customers who frequent the pub.

There is no doubting the talent of the two performers, Katy Cavanagh and Colin Connor, both of whom prove once again that they are brilliant and versatile actors by playing all the characters. However, there is more inconsistency in the writing in this sequel and overall the characters are far harder to empathise and engage with.

Connor’s talent is stifled here and he is lumbered with two truly dreadful characters in the irritating chef in Act 1 and Act 2 karate trainee whose monologue is so poetic that it jars uncomfortably with the rest of the play. Even as the Landlord Connor is not afforded a script of the quality of the original play but he works hard and his performance as the play concludes pulls at the heart strings.

Cavanagh is better treated by the writer and, whereas the original play was an equal effort between the two performers, Two 2 well and truly belongs to the actress. Cavanagh’s ballet loving bouncer is a joy to watch and as contestant number 2 in the speed dating sequence, she is utterly adorable.

Unlike the original play, Two 2 makes much more use of audience participation, which when managed well can work as a great comic device. However, in this production, there is a little too much invited participation that unfortunately encourages poor engagement at other key moments and appears to serve as nothing more than a needless filler to give the play length.

The simple set by Ciaran Bagnall works equally as well here as it did in Two and his lighting design is once again effective. Director David Thacker keeps the pace up as best he can but is let down by a poor structure and less interesting characters.

In all honesty, there doesn’t seem any point of a sequel. As a production, it has solid production values and is superbly acted, but the whole thing is let down by mediocre writingand a predictable plot.

Runs until 27February 2016 | Photo: Ian Tilton

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