If there’s one thing better than a night down the pub…it’s two nights down the pub.
Unusually for a sequel, Jim Cartwright’s script for ‘TWO 2’ is even wittier, braver, more powerful, more perceptive and more poignant than the original ‘TWO’…which is also still running at The Wightman.
The ‘two’ are the landlord and landlady of an unnamed northern pub. The passage of time has not been kind. The once bustling boozer is now struggling. The clientele has gone down the road; the stripper is rubbish and there’s only one contestant for the Quiz Night. The owners are of two minds. She wants to get out of ‘this quicksand of soggy beer mats’. He wants to keep it going in memory of their dead son … and is planning a ‘Gala Nite’ to turn it round.
Their running ‘will they won’t they’ theme is punctuated, as before, by a series of curious cameos about the odd folk who frequent the place. There’s the bouncer who fancies themselves as a ballet dancer…and practices, by throwing people out … balletically. (Not that there’s anyone to throw out). The ex-Navy pub-grub chef produces custard lumpy enough to sink the Titanic but waxes lyrical about how to ‘present’ a chip butty. And the twice-weekly karate club which (as we can clearly hear) meets upstairs, throws up a Blackbelt who writes poetry. They are all rich figures of fun; designed to amuse.
The piece de resistance is a very poorly attended and highly squirmy speed dating evening. The male actor Adrian Monahan now plays the love-lorn Tony and Julia Tarnoky his three speedy dates. Adrian is a very strong actor with impeccable timing and the ability to nail a character in very few words. Julia’s enunciated style takes a little getting used to. But she’s certainly fearless on stage and throws herself into her several characters with abandon. I loved her ‘Lego’ the bouncer character – who does a very a decent ‘Swan Lake’. And her pathos in the final suitcase-in-the-hall scene touches the soul.
Adrian meanwhile revels in his role as the belligerent, bullying quiz master who doesn’t give anyone the faintest chance of getting the right answer. And I fancy he rather enjoyed getting into drag as the blond bombshell from the bar down the road.
They are all exquisitely tiny minds in an insular world. So, it’s the bedrock relationship between the publicans that underpins the play and provides a sense of satisfaction.
Director Robin Case has his finger firmly on the highs and lows of the show. At the preview I saw the actors still had some harmonisation to achieve. But the blue print of another successful show is firmly in place and, if you saw the original, you will certainly want to know what happens next. You won’t be disappointed by the entertaining storylines.
Both plays are now in repertoire until November 4th. and it’s best to see them in the right order.