The Two Character Play Review Alma Tavern Theatre Bristol
Friday 08 March 2019 at 8pm
Have you ever seen a Mat Smith era Doctor Who? One set in a remote and unknown location but somehow feels strangely familiar. Something feels a bit off kilter. A bit dreamlike. Something doesn’t feel quite right yet everyone’s wide awake and it’s not a dream. There’s a paradox you can’t put your finger on. The plot line is both simultaneously bonkers yet makes complete sense. That was how I felt watching The Two Character Play.
Brother and sister acting siblings Felice and Clare, have been dumped by the rest of their acting troupe whilst on tour. A lack of payment and finance is mentioned. But, I suspect the rest of the creatives recognised the moment that you back out of the door and disappear into the night rather than let the monster chase you and confine you upstairs.
The two actors decide to carry on with their monster, a performance of The Two Character Play, possibly to an audience, possibly to an empty auditorium.
It’s an intense play, the both plays at once and very well directed. Two hours with just two actors in a play like this could buffer like ninties dial-up internet connection, but the pace is excellent and totally gripping throughout. The bashing of a middle C sharp usually brings a welcome rest from the tension.
Rebecca Robson is a delight. A soft, sing-song Southern drawl pulls you into her unusual world which rocks on the edge of a precipice. Dan Gaisford’s intense Felice is perfectly matched. Together, they drip feed the audience with clues, misdirection, as well as dawning realisation as we move through the story.
It’s a story that’s deep, sometimes with a wicked sense of humour and delicately woven together with a thin thread stitching together the fragility of our sanity.
Molly Hawkin’s striking set design added to the ambience, yielding the feeling of hearing a disjointed melody from a music box that floats alone in the air of a deserted creaky house. A lifeless house covered in dust sheet ghosts yet something lurks within. The set within the set. The eyes that watched from painted flats.
I particularly liked the use of a real window in the building, adding an additional layer of reality hitting fantasy to the play, within a play set up.
These kind of moments came throughout the play, sometimes by beautiful accident – such as when the actors reference the audience had got up and left during their play, not long after some audience members had actually got up and left. Another C sharp please.
I probably wouldn’t have seen this play if it wasn’t being done by Red Rope Theatre. The company consistently stages smaller scale yet epic productions. It’s never enough for them to simply stage it in a place of convenience. The building, location, set and story are all carefully considered – right down to the window in the fabric of The Alma. There is never a lazy decision in their creative process and this is another excellent production.
Alma Tavern and Theatre: www.almatavernandtheatre.co.uk/theatre.html
The play is running at the Alma Tavern and Theatre until Saturday 17 March 2019.
For more information about Red RopeTheatre: https://www.redropetheatre.co.uk/