Two of a Kind
Bread & Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 8th January 2019
“a piece of solid playwriting enhanced by authentic acting with flashes of true humanity”
This short and punchy two-hander, written and directed by Mimi Monteith, perhaps invokes the Chekhovian gun principle. Much as one shouldn’t place a loaded gun on stage unless the performance will see it fire, we might say that a play that mentions Sarah Kane’s bleak 4.48 Psychosis halfway through should deliver on its suicidal associations. I won’t confirm or deny whether that happens here, but the at-first playful dialogue between actors Daniel Lockett and Lily Cooper certainly takes a dark turn.
Cooper and Lockett are believable as third-year drama students – uncomfortably so, with lazy sexist ‘banter’ and gossip about mutual friends. The simple staging supports the uni hangout vibe; studenty tapestries and worn armchairs abound. With all the narcissism you’d expect of twenty-something trainee playwrights facing a nocturnal assignment crisis, the characters are not entirely likeable. I suspect this pair would be familiar to any recovering drama school attendees.
That said, they’re hard to dislike too, in no small part thanks to the impressive efforts of a talented pair of young actors. Cooper, as Fliss, gets the better deal, with richer lines offering up a more fully rounded character. She is in turns playful and sulky, and despite some initial unpromising dialogue when we first find our cast on stage, this witty character quickly takes on life. Lockett finds himself as more of a foil to Cooper, with less clarity around motivations. His tough gig requires him to demonstrate a remarkable range of human emotion within the play’s taut 45 minutes. Add to this the fact that his powerful closing speech unfortunately represents some of the weakest writing, and it’s easy to feel that Lockett has been given an almost impossible task. Nonetheless, he copes manfully, with moments of real emotional nuance.
This skilful acting is sometimes a little undermined by clunky lighting and music, which feels like a missed opportunity. The lilting musical refrain at the climax feels laboured, and the same song at the start risked drowning out Lockett’s opening words in this performance. Similarly, the offstage presence of a sinister abusive partner might perhaps have been even more fully realised using the affordances of sound or light.
4.48 Psychosis this may not be (and many might be relieved at that). It is, however, a piece of solid playwriting enhanced by authentic acting with flashes of true humanity.
Reviewed by Abi Davies
Photography by Henry Prenn
Two of a Kind
Bread & Roses Theatre until 12th January
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: