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)
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