The Pumphouse, Takapuna, Auckland
26/10/2017 - 04/11/2017
Written by Jim Cartwright
Tadpole Productions brings you this clever play for two actors by well-known English actor and playwright, Jim Cartwright. Set in a rundown local pub it takes the audience through a spectrum of human emotion, giving intimate insights into the lives of the colourful pub regulars.
Starring Lisa Chappell and Paul Glover
Two great actors play fourteen characters, from the bantering and bickering publican and his wife to a womanising would-be Lothario and his long suffering girlfriend. There’s the ‘other woman’, hiding behind her sunglasses, trying to drum up courage to confront her married lover; the old man who takes quiet comfort in his memories of his late wife; the fat couple who come to the pub to eat crisps and watch TV; while a buttoned up headmistress type reveals her secret lust for “big men”.
In a series of sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, yet always incredibly human vignettes, each character or couple reflects fragments of ourselves as the play mines the depths of human experience.
You will laugh, you will cry – and you may need a drink……
“Brilliantly, surrealistically and comically poetic” Sunday Times, London
“There are laughter and tears along the way in this emotional rollercoaster” Manchester Evening News
“Warmly comic” Sydney Morning Herald
The PumpHouse, Takapuna, Auckland
26 OCTOBER-5 NOVEMBER 2017
Thu, Oct 26 – Sat, Oct 28, 7:30pm
Sun, Oct 29, 4:00pm
Tue, Oct 31 – Fri, Nov 3, 7:30pm
Sat, Nov 4, 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Senior (65+): $35.00
Friends of The PumpHouse: $30.00
Friends of The PumpHouse (Couple): $30.00
Groups 10+: 35.00
Booking Fee: $5.00 per booking
Starring Lisa Chappell and Paul Glover
Insights prompt empathy
Review by Leigh Sykes 27th Oct 2017
The programme tells us that the play is set in a rundown local pub and thus the stage of The Pumphouse Theatre has been transformed into a bar, complete with a wide range of spirits on display, a small table and couple of chairs, some bar stools, a rather large and impressive pot plant and a large mirror at the back, in which I can (somewhat disconcertingly) see my own reflection as I take my seat.
Although this detailed set (designed and constructed by Nick Greer) is suitably functional and lived-in, it to me suggests a wine bar more than the type of local pub where I have whiled away many an hour while living for many years in the North of England.
However, this is an observation rather than a criticism, since it becomes clear as soon as the play begins that this classic English play has been re-located from the slightly grubby streets of Lancashire to somewhere much closer to where we are currently sitting. The Landlord (Paul Glover) and Landlady (Lisa Chappell) rapidly serve a range of customers with a range of identifiably local drinks, moving around the bar and each other in a deft dance of customer interaction.
Many of the (unseen) costumers are greeted by name or with their regular drink, suggesting that the clientele in this particular bar is pretty regular. Both Glover and Chappell are immediately engaging as the couple who present a smiling face to their customers while bickering with varying degrees of venom with each other.
Described as a ‘clever play for two actors’, Two is structured so that these two actors play a total of fourteen characters throughout the piece. The Landlord and Landlady anchor the action before the other characters are introduced, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs, and all are played with energy and focus by Glover and Chappell. Some characters make us laugh and some make us uncomfortable, as we, and they, live through a specific evening in the pub.
The lives we glimpse are shown to us in varying degrees of detail and cover a range of ages, backgrounds and personalities. They are all brought to life with some simple and appropriate costume items (Wardrobe by Catherine Maunsell) and specific and often subtly nuanced physicality and voice work.
Glover successfully navigates a range of characters: interacting with various female audience members as the ageing lothario Moth; bringing a small lump to the throat as the old man who takes quiet comfort in the memory of his late wife; and generating lots of affectionate laughter as one half of the self-proclaimed fat couple who come to the pub to eat crisps and watch TV.
Chappell creates a strait-laced and imperious woman who discusses her secret lust for ‘big men’ as well as channelling Kath (or perhaps Kim) as Maudie, the long-suffering girlfriend of the woman-chasing Moth. As Lesley, the subdued and subjugated girlfriend of the manipulative and physically abusive Roy, she brings great detail and vulnerability to her portrayal.
Chappell’s diversity of voice gives each new character her own distinct sound, while Glover’s physicality successfully sketches old, energetic and very young characters with equal success.
As the evening in the pub draws to a close, the reason for the bickering between the Landlord and Landlady is shockingly revealed. Although this scene is performed with conviction, the sudden ability of these sparring and sometimes vicious partners to share deep and important feelings feels somewhat rushed and unearned. However, this does not detract from the engaging work that has been put into creating this small and defined world.
I do sometimes find the breaks between the scenes slow the pace of the play, defusing any sense of tension and making the actors and audience work a little harder to engage with the start of the next scene. It may be that these breaks are entirely unavoidable due to the myriad changes necessary to portray all of the different characters, but it does lead to a sense of waiting at some points during the play.
Although written in 1989, this play still has the capacity to offer insights into humanity, so that we can empathise with the wide range of people and situations that we see portrayed here.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer