'Make mine a double' - Cheers all round for Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans

Two, by Jim Cartwright, is set in a pub.

Two, by Jim Cartwright, is set in a pub. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

Two offers such an intoxicating look at pub life that you could have made mine a double at the Abbey Theatre this week.

The current production by the Company of Ten is not exactly a barrel of laughs – although it has plenty of humour – but we are treated to a mild and bitter parade of characters, performed by just two actors.

All life is here in the production of Jim Cartwright’s timeless play written in the 1980s in the days of sticky carpets and fag ends but set in a northern pub in the present day.

Jill Priest and Mark Dawson star in Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Jill Priest and Mark Dawson star in Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

It is an inspired choice by the Company of Ten, not just for its echoes of nostalgia but also for its rich cast of characters, reflecting the minutiae of daily life.

They are all played by the two characters we only know as the landlord and landlady.

So step forward and take a big bow Mark Dawson and Jill Priest, the landlord and landlady, who clearly have their own back story which gradually emerges.

As well as sniping at each other behind the bar, they play such diverse characters as would-be gigolo Moth and his long-suffering girlfriend Maudie and the bullying Roy and downtrodden Lesley.

Mark Dawson and Jill Priest star in Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Mark Dawson and Jill Priest star in Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

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Then there is the tubby couple, watching TV contentedly together in the pub, and the woman who denigrates her quivering husband for not being the sort of large man she admires.

We even see Mark as a child abandoned outside the pub by his father while at the other extreme they both play old people and in Jill’s case, a spurned mistress.

These are virtuoso performances requiring quick costume changes and swift character switches – no small feat on a professional stage let alone an amateur one.

Directed confidently by Andy Mills, it is played out on an impressive set that draws in the audience who feel like pub customers. 

Cheers all round to the Company of Ten’s second post-lockdown production – it is a triumph.


Two runs until Saturday, June 5, and tickets are available from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk



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