Printable CopyTWO
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 14 Jul 2018

Review by Paige Mulholland

Well-established performing duo Stefanie Rossi and Marc Clement take to the stage in “Two”, a play that follows the coming and goings of customers and publicans in a British pub. The play has its sweet moments, its funny moments and its emotive moments, but also some moments that don’t connect with the audience or hit the mark in the way they were intended to.

Rossi and Clement take on the challenging task of playing seven characters each throughout the show, ranging from lonely, elderly customers to manipulative twentysomethings and lost children. The attempt from both actors at creating distinct British accents for each of their seven characters was valiant, if not always successful, and it’s clear that both performers are seamlessly rehearsed and committing themselves to raw, emotive performances. Clement and Rossi work well together, creating a unique chemistry between each set of characters and easily transitioning from settled, happy couples to tumultuous, emotionally-fraught encounters, and each of them particularly shines when portraying elderly characters. From the voice to the mannerisms, they are very convincing as a man and woman in their eighties.

The stage fighting in the show could use some improvement – often the two were so far away from each-other that their slaps and foot stamps seemed laughably artificial in moments that should have been serious and heavy.

The main issue with this play is undoubtedly the script. Although the play was written to present a realistic cross-section of the British working class, the playwright paints them in a very unflattering light. The male characters were almost all vastly unappealing, and the women often two-dimensional stereotypes. It can be difficult to find these characters funny or moving when they are so difficult to sympathise with. Some of the characters that would have been likeable, such as the happy aging couple who come to the pub to eat chips and watch bad movies, are treated in such an unsympathetic way by the playwright (with repetitive, slapstick fat jokes) and by the costumer (who decided that square pillows shoved up the actors’ shirts is the best way to convey that the characters are large) that the audience is alienated regardless.

The publicans are the exception – the twist in their story, though predictable, adds depth to their characters and makes them easier to relate to. These two characters were also an audience favourite. If the other characters had half the complexity and individuality of these two, the play would be much easier to swallow.

In terms of design, “Two” is well-done. The simple set is utilitarian and allows the characters to transition from character to character without leaving the stage or pulling focus and the costumes, aside from the previously-mentioned, somewhat-bizarre use of square cushions as a makeshift fat-suit (surely circular cushions, at least, are more anatomically realistic?), are effective at helping the audience quickly identify the rapidly-changing characters.

Of all the excellent two-handers in all the world, STARC Productions had to run into this one. Adelaide should look forward to future projects from this young company – with some more insightful and affecting source material, they are a team who could put together some excellent productions.