There is a comforting and receptive presence to ‘small plays’. Small, meaning the size of the place but it has nothing to do with the capacity of the play. A talented crew can perform even when the audience is a foot away or when they have to battle with wasps. (Seriously!) At the Drama barn, the Drama Society blurred the boundaries between the stage and the audience and involved us in a bittersweet comic drama. Jim Cartwright’s Two offers some familiar characters and situations that we can all relate to in some ways.
Cartwright was born in Farnworth in 1958. Growing up in a working-class family and studying acting in London he lived what he said- A double life. One glamorous, with premiers and social mingling in London and the working-class reality of Lancashire and the North. The second reality is what we see in his play –Two– that won the Manchester Evening News Best New Play award in 1989. The play introduces 14 different characters, originally meant to be played by two actors. The diverse situations and personalities are connected by a common thread, the local pub. This is the place where serious social issues and everyday problems are talked about over a couple of pints.
Despite her sudden placement as director and producer of Two, Becca Brown managed to conduct an excellent play that proved the proficiency of all the actors and the production team.
The married pub owner couple was played by Georgia Green and Jonathan Barnes who stayed in the role even when a wasp interrupted the play. Their act of constant disagreement was so convincing that it felt sometimes, I am listening to something that I am not supposed to hear.
The impression of peeking into intimate scenes of other people occurred throughout the whole play. Charlotte Hammond and Nick Clarke who both played multiple roles changed characters several times. Their personal transformations happened just in seconds and they always managed to bring in new perspectives with their performances.
While the freshly appearing characters introduce us to different social backgrounds and new personal stories, we slowly get to know the landlord couple. A tragedy in their past left them bitter and heartbroken but their common grief ties them together. We see more of the Landlady’s maternal side when a lost child played by Amy Howarth appears sobbing and searching for his father.
The ‘Northern pub feeling’ was fully portrayed in George Robertson and Becca Brown’s concept for the set and the lighting/sound design by Joshua Buckledee. The assistant light and set designer was Natsuko Noguchi, costumes were envisaged by Lee Chapman. Set/Prop Design by Caitly Perry, P&P by Niamh Cooper.
Cartwright’s Two by the Drama Society exceeded all of my expectations and served as an insight into their professional and truly valuable activity.
The Drama Society at the University of York was formed around the time the university was established. With a history that goes back to more than 50 years, the society involved hundreds if not thousands of students throughout these years. They even have their own website which is definitely worth taking a look at. You can book your tickets for their coming plays and browse their website here.
Instagram account of the Drama Society- @dramasoc