"Brilliant Performance of Minimalist Theatre"
by Paul Ackroyd for remotegoat on 14/05/18

Jim Cartwright's one act play Two currently being formed throughout the summer at a range of venues by Clueless Theatre is well named. There are two actors, two stools and very little else. No scenery, no props, no sound effects just the cast, the audience and the script. And frankly nothing else is needed for a superb 75 min of spellbinding theatre.

The play takes place in the Northern pub with the landlord and landlady as the central characters. We first meet them serving a wide range of invisible customers at frenetic pace while maintaining a dialogue of insults and snide comments to each other. Gradually a range of other assorted characters come into the pub most of them with some social or relational problem. The play, which starts as a rip roaring comedy takes on more sombre themes as a range of emotions are evoked by this cast of misfits.

All the 14 characters are played by the same two actors Debbie Griffiths and Piers Newman. Two highly accomplished actors whose depiction of the different characters was a joy to behold. They would disappear off to one side of the stage to reappear almost immediately having completed an incredibly rapid costume change as one of the other contrasting characters. Debbie Griffiths is blessed with a versatile face which with a simple change to the hairstyle scarf or pair of glasses completely changed her appearance and when combined with a different costume and a very effective change to her physical demeanour made it sometimes difficult to believe that this was the same actress. Piers Newman did not have quite the same flexible physical facility being distinguished with a beard but was still able to accomplish remarkable transformations from a young loutish boyfriend to an aging long time regular escaping his invalid wife.

I caught the play on its charity preview at Bromley Little Theatre in aid of Children with Cancer. Due to the unavailability of the main stage the cast had to perform on the narrow apron in front of the curtain. This was a substantial constraint but director Kyle Cluett made excellent use of the available space and the constraint of the acting area was only a problem occasionally when the cast had to pass in front of each other. Future venues on their countrywide tour will hopefully not be so problematic and a hopefully the cast will still maintain their highly entertaining interaction with the audience.

The play is little more than a series of dramatic vignettes linked only by their location in the pub , and would have been stronger. had there been a more interconnecting theme running through it. However, the range of emotions that it evoked in only just over an hour was memorable.

Clueless Theatre are performing at Sevenoaks School (17 -19 May), the Brighton Fringe (25- 28th of May), Drafton Arms in Kensington ( 10-11 June) Camden Fringe ( 2-5 August) and the Edinburgh Fringe (13-18th August) . So there are plenty of opportunities to catch a first class example of theatre reduced to its bare essentials.

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