By Jim Cartwright
Two (originally titled To) was written by award winning playwright Jim Cartwright, whose other plays are consistently performed around the world and have been translated into twenty languages.
A sharp and touching slice of English life set in a pub owned by a savagely bickering husband and wife, Two is a series of short vignettes that skilfully combines pathos and humour. Originally, Cartwright envisaged that all fourteen characters should be played by two actors and Playing Up are sticking to that challenging format in their production.
This wonderfully observed character study of a traditional pub, its eccentric customers and its warring landlord and wife won the Manchester Evening News Best New Play award in 1989 and has been in production somewhere around the world ever since. It offers a credible view of a succession of ordinary people, seeking shelter from the miseries of their existence. It also goes someway to exploring the British love affair with the pub as the heart of a community; an escape and a refuge from everyday problems.
There is the old woman dropping in for a drink at the end of a gruelling day in which she has coped with her incontinent husband. There is the little old man who still talks to his dead wife and the conniving Scouser, Moth, who uses all means at his disposal to get inside his girlfriend’s purse. There’s Roy, the sadistic and controlling abuser of his girlfriend Lesley and most poignantly of all, there’s the lad whose dad forgot him on his way out. Linking them all are the Landlord and Landlady, constantly rowing because tonight is the anniversary of an event they cannot bear to discuss.
Two: “A sharp, salty, quickfire evocation of the surface gaiety and underlying melancholia of English pub life.” (Michael Billington, The Guardian)
Jim Cartwright was born in Farnworth, Lancashire in 1958 and still lives in the area. At the age of 16 he left school to attend the Central School of Speech and Drama in London where he trained as an actor.
His first play, Road, was commissioned by the Royal Court Theatre, London, and first performed in 1986. The play went on to win a number of awards, including The Samuel Beckett Award. It was also adapted for the BBC and went on to win best film at The Monte Carlo Television Festival.
His second play, Bed, was first performed in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre in London in 1989, and was followed in the same year by To (later re-named Two) at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, written for the actress Jane Horrocks, was first performed at the National Theatre in 1992, and later filmed as Little Voice in 1998. His plays for television include Strumpet and Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise, both screened by BBC television in 2001.
In 1996 he directed his play, I Licked a Slag’s Deodorant for The Royal Court at The Ambassadors Theatre, London. Cartwright’s most recent stage play, Hard Fruit, the story of Choke, a gay martial arts fanatic, premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in April 2000.
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