I’ll have 14 pints of melodrama, please
Perhaps, it’s not necessary to introduce the institution called ‘Pub’ to the Cantabs. This is the comforting place where you can meet up with peers, hook up with peers, regret hooking up with peers, or revise and chill in the calming company of a pint of Cambridge Bitter. Yet the pub which is the set of Jim Cartwright’s play Two isn’t this cosy place of freedom and fun, but the scene of human suffers and dead ends of personal walks of life.
Two actors, Stanley Thomas and Kate Collins perform fourteen different figures who appear in this imaginary bar of agony. In this schizophrenic conveyer belt you have only a blink to observe the 14 characters as if you were sitting in a running sushi bar. They are the landlord and landlady of the pub who are constantly quarreling with each other. The old lady who can’t stand her husband’s company anymore, the widow old man, the unfaithful boyfriend and his girl, the middle-aged coach potato couple, the wife terrorizing her husband, the abuser husband and his victim wife, the other woman, and the lost child whose father is drinking in the bar instead of looking after him.
Thomas and Collins can easily jump from the skin of one character to another. They brilliantly play with changing poses, gestures and intonation. Thomas is so suggestive in the monologue of the old widow man that the members of the audience have to hold their breath back. Collins’ most impressive part is the abused woman. Her eyes can harrowingly ask desperate help from the audience without saying any word. Thomas and Collins have a good dynamic together and their couple works smoothly as a team. In the part of the middle aged pair the intimacy between them can be felt in the air.
It’s not their fault that the play doesn’t work. Some parts of the story can touch you, but the whole is not believable. There is no space to elaborate the personal stories so the tragedies can’t trigger the catharsis. For this reason, the last tragic scene, which was intended to be the crown of the night, feels false and melodramatic.
This play is not a comedy, nor a tragedy, nor even a dark dramedy. It leaves a question mark hanging in the air after watching it. It's worth seeing not because of the story, but because of the artistic challenge completed by Thomas and Collins.