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By Jim Cartwright

Royal Exchange Theatre, 23 January 2012


Photo - Jonathan Keenan

It’s a double header, and that in two senses.

For a start, Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliott play all the parts: they’re the landlord and landlady of a pub, and they take on the roles of various customers an’ all.

Now the first part of the play meanders towards the maudlin, the sentimental, the ‘touching’ and the jokey.  In fact, at one point it was in danger of becoming simply a vehicle for Moorhouse’s brand of comedy.  Not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but that’s not the play.

However, the second part, post-interval as it were, was darker and altogether more serious.  An abusive relationship or two was to be found on the demonstration slab, for one thing.  We also got the nitty-gritty – an excoriating revelation, it’s known as in the trade – as regards this couple who run the pub.

When time is called, it is clear that this has been a vital production of a play with much to say still about men and women, the battle between the sexes, gender-related guerrilla skirmishes, and all that.  You get the picture.

If you’re a glass half-empty kind of chap, you might say, ‘Go easy on the jokes and the calls of “Hey, lads…” ‘  But still: a thumbs up, it has to be.

Two is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 25 February, further details are here.