Review: Two (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Mar 24 – May 6, 2017
Playwright: Jim Cartwright
Director: Mark Kilmurry
Cast: Brian Meegan, Kate Raison
Image by Clare Hawley

Theatre review
All kinds of things can happen in a pub, that old institution that uniquely combines commerce and community. It is wide open, with few restrictions on who and what are allowed to walk through its doors. Jim Cartwright’s Two first arrived at the very end of the 1980’s. Set in regional NSW, it paints a nostalgic picture of Australia before mobile phones, and before we began suspecting neighbours of wanting to bomb each other into pieces.

Men were masculine, women were feminine, and everyone was heterosexual. A comforting predictability existed, along with an indeterminate air of stifled constraint. The play features two actors in a series of roles that explore love and relationships, from an innocent time and space.

Kate Raison plays all the nice ladies with an admirable strength, bringing dimension to their predetermined passivity, and Brian Meegan keeps us entertained by introducing imaginative variation to his wide range of male characters. They make a confident and jubilant pair, adept at providing entertainment and pathos with each of Two‘s warmhearted vignettes. Director Mark Kilmurry stays out of the way of his actors’ talents, and leaves Cartwright’s vision intact, for a production that offers no surprises, but that communicates fluently with a remarkable simplicity.

For those of a certain age, there is no greater romance, than the romance one has with the past. We retain only the sweet, and those memories can make the living of today seem less dulcet. The Aussie pub is required to preserve tradition, but the financial imperative forces it to move along with the times. It is an allegory for us all. The past is often warm and comfy, but it is the essence of life that will insist we be taken in unexpected directions. The local watering hole may no longer know your name, but it still stands, awaiting new stories to be writ.

www.ensemble.com.au