‘The Twins’ two-hander brings depth and realism

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Theatre / “The Twins”, written by Sarah Butler, Ian Darling and Greg Fleet. Directed by Terry Serio and Sarah Butler. The Courtyard, Canberra Theatre Centre to May 6. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

In “The Twins”, two men, who had performed at school together in Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”, get together years later to work on a two-hander adaptation of that same play. The interaction of these old friends during rehearsal forms the basis of this play about friendship, trust, nostalgia and regret.

Describing this work as “theatre vérité”, the two performers actually are the characters in the play and the incidents remembered from the past are real.

Ian (Ian Darling) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has returned to the stage for the first time in 40 years. Greg (Greg Fleet) is an award-winning actor, comedian, playwright and author. They have stayed in touch over the years, often with lengthy absences in between. While they have led interesting and colourful lives, neither man is without flaws. Personal sensitivities and touchy subjects between the men soon appear in their interactions.

As they talk about the different directions their lives have taken and dredge up memories of past meetings, old friends, Shakespearian quotes, favourite TV shows and songs, feelings bubble to the surface that we can identify with in relation to our own lives and friendships.

Set in a bare, tin shed studio in Kangaroo Valley in the final days of 2019, the directors, Terry Serio and Sarah Butler, use the simple and stark rehearsal space very well. Well-chosen music is used effectively to show the passage of time between separate rehearsal periods as well as defining the era of these two men’s lives.

Both actors prowl the stage, keeping a distance from each other in moments of mistrust and annoyance, but the underlying warmth of their friendship is constantly under the surface. The directors have ensured both the verbal and non-verbal interactions between these two strong characters have depth and realism.

There are inner dialogue moments addressed to the audience but they stand out as a theatrical device against the natural playing of the rest of the work and are less effective.

At 90 minutes without a break, the show feels a bit long, but the naturalistic performances by the actors, the insight into their lives and the generally tight direction make this an unusual, enjoyable and thoughtful entertainment.

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