I walk into some popular type pub in the North England, perhaps a cheap Wetherspoon or something like that. The red worn out carpet, the dimmed lights and eighties music immediately transfer me into a completely different world and disconnect from the outside. There is a bar right in front of me and a few tables. I sit down.
The evening gets busy. It starts off light-hearted, the bartenders, a husband and a wife, are professional and customer-focused. They engage in conversations with the usual visitors and the landlord loves his favourite joke:
“So you want two gins and a beer. Not in one glass, I hope?”
But it’s not long before things start to fall apart.
We are in Chickenshed – a very lively and progressive theatre in Enfield which I will certainly tell about about in my Here be Dragons project. Right now until 24th October it is a home to an intimate pub place where Jim Cartwright’s play “Two” is set. The play features 14 characters all played by just two actors – each of the 14 with a heart-breaking story.
Apart from the great lighting and cosy stage design the solution for the see-through bar stall in the middle of the set is an interesting metaphor for the seeming transparency of the keepers who have their whole life here since the young age connected to this pub. It seems solid, but in fact the there is nothing solid behind it, just two scared people who try to hide their worries in the repetition of the same old phrases. They hope that if they repeat long enough, one day it will become something tangible, something to build upon:
As evening goes on, people come and go and we witness a variety of colourful personalities.
The change of characters that the actors Joseph Morton and Rachel Yates, undergo every few minutes is impeccable. They are both capable of a wide range of emotions and demonstrate an artistic talent that sucks you in and relate to the pain of each pub visitor. Not a single emotion flunked. The meek and the vile here are intertwined – and are hostages of one another in a mutual torture.
The play is divided into a few stories each revealing an aching relationship – and none really having a proper resolution, as if they are on the edge of realising something and making a decision about their lives – but never quite making it.
But that how life is. Most of the time you do not get a life-changing moment. Come a lucid evening, a sudden For a brief moment you are aware of what holds you back from a “true freedom”.
The sky is clear at last.
You have found home.
The feeling of freedom goes on for sometime, and you feel relieved of a burden. But a few moments later it’s gone: you rarely reach the escape velocity and are pulled back by the abyss of the routine.
“Two” at Chickenshed is a fantastic and immersive experience. It makes you invested while leading inside through the perils of human relationship. When the play finishes, you are left perplexed full of thoughts – and yet unsure of how are you supposed to feel towards each character. Human relationships are too complicated to feel certain about them.
Photos are courtesy of Chickenshed