"Compelling, bold: theatre for today"
by May Davey for remotegoat on 22/11/13

To say that this tight two-hander delivers a punch is both high praise and something of an understatement.

A truly bold piece of theatre, it serves up a slice of life from the world of two homeless men just about getting by on the streets. Their survival - in body and spirit – is tested by sheer material hardship but they sustain a fragile, fractious relationship through what little is freely available to them: sharing with one another anecdotes from the past and observations about their lives.

The acting is superb, of a depth you don’t see often at a Fringe venue. The grizzled old street survivor of the pair is played by Dónal Cox (veteran of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and recent work with Ricky Gervais and Richard Ayoade). Previous stage work of his has impressed me and this powerful, credible performance doesn’t disappoint. John Eastman, an Australian turned Londoner, gives a skillful performance as his associate, finely tuned to show us an oddly engaging character despite the man’s callousness and self-absorption.

You should, by the way, expect strong language - and imagery from life’s uglier side. Nonetheless, Director Liz Newbery has left space in this production for its humour to surface and there’s a compelling quality that owes much to the physicality of the performances. A very sparse set underlines the men’s pared down existence and Célia Dugua’s lighting design creates a wonderfully understated sense of street lighting. Sound design by Matt Downing is subtle and highly effective in the way it moves us through the loosely connected scenes.

Playwright Daniel Keene is strangely little known in the UK although highly regarded across Europe, the USA and Australia, his base. He has identified Samuel Beckett as an influence and there are in this play some interesting echoes of ‘Waiting for Godot’. ‘Night, A Wall, Two Men’ however has a real-world truth, a real-time grounded quality which brings it right into our sense of the here and now. We’ll all pass homeless people on our way to the theatre. Makes you think. But of course the play’s not just about them – it’s about all of us. Highly recommended.

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