The pub with few cheers

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Brian Meegan and Katie Raison… give convincing performances in all the roles with only minimal changes of costume.

Theatre / “Two”. Written by Jim Cartwright and directed by Mark Kilmurry. At The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to April 6. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

JIM Cartwright’s play, “Two”, was first staged in England in 1989. The Ensemble Theatre’s production is set in a pub in regional NSW in that same year.

A middle-aged landlord and landlady couple, who met as children outside the pub, were engaged in the pub, had their wedding reception in the pub and eventually bought the pub.

They have served every type of person over the years and both put on a sunny face welcoming their patrons. But behind that mask there is a deeply troubled relationship.

A clever concept for a play, “Two” transfers easily to an Australian setting. The characters are all recognisable local types. Some are very funny in their eccentricities and some have rather sad lives.

The play has only two performers who play the pub owners as well as the multitude of characters who drink there. Actors, Brian Meegan and Katie Raison, give convincing performances in all the roles with only minimal changes of costume. Their comic timing is excellent and they play the characters for real, not as caricatures. Even the characters who appear for only a short time are given strongly etched performances by the cast.

Director Mark Kilmurry has obtained in-depth performances from his actors and has staged the show very well. The actors need to make many quick costume changes and the director has made this seem effortless. The show’s pace suits the relaxed atmosphere of a pub and having the characters mime the pouring of drinks and sipping from glasses worked fine.

The pub set design by Alicia Clements is attractive and her costumes suit the fashions of the time and give us immediate clues to the type of characters we’re meeting. Lighting design by Matthew Marshall and sound design by Neil McLean add the right atmosphere to the play.

In the foyer afterwards, comparing which characters they enjoyed most, audience members showed how engaged they were by this entertaining play.

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