DramaNorth WestReview

Two – Octagon Theatre, Bolton

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

Prolific playwright Jim Cartwright premiered Two in 1989 in this very theatre and the play has since become a favourite among regional and amateur companies. With this excellent revival co-produced with the University of Bolton, it is easy to see why.

Set within a pub in northern England the play focuses on the difficult relationship husband and wife landlord team and the customers they encounter over one night. The snippets into the lives of the customers interject into the growing tension between the Landlord and Landlady who both harbour a deep-rooted frustration and unresolved hurt leading to a conclusion reminiscent of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; inconclusive yet satisfying and ultimately deeply moving.

The script, as one would expect from Jim Cartwright, is witty and smart throughout, perfectly capturing a snap shot of British society. He has a great sense for character and comedy and has filled his play with rich characters and meaty text.

With two actors playing 14 characters versatility is the principal requirement of both performers and they must be evenly matched. Katy Cavanagh and Colin Connor are ideally cast and clearly relish every moment on the stage. Both have their own particular strengths with Cavanagh able to break hearts as a comic yet poignant elderly lady, an emotionally abused girlfriend, and the desperate ‘other woman’. Connor has exemplary comic timing and is a master of accents but together they are a perfect pair, work incredibly hard and share a genuine onstage chemistry.

The physical production is simple and this is exactly as it should be. Ciaran Bagnall’s unfussy set sits comfortably in the performance space and is a perfect backdrop to the action. Bagnall is also responsible for the effective lighting design.

Director David Thacker should be congratulated on guiding the cast and crew to such a fantastic finished product. Theatrical perfection is rare indeed, but on this occasion, the Bolton Octagon has managed just that.

Runs until 6February 2016 | Photo: Ian Tilton

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