Cheers! Two's company as live performances return to Abbey Theatre in St Albans

Jim Cartwright’s bittersweet black comedy Two opens at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans in June. 

Jim Cartwright’s bittersweet black comedy Two opens at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans in June. - Credit: Anne Frizell, Abbey Theatre

Live performances returned to St Albans this week with the Abbey Theatre's first show of the year taking the stage.

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, Samuel Beckett play Endgame opened at the theatre in Holywell Hill on Tuesday night.

Endgame runs until Saturday, May 22, both in the main auditorium and as an online livestream, and the Company of Ten's next production, Two by Jim Cartwright, opens in less than two weeks.

Jill Priest in Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Jill Priest in Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Anne Frizell, Abbey Theatre

"There’s never a dull moment when you deal in liquor!" So says the pub landlady in Jim Cartwright’s bittersweet black comedy, which opens on Tuesday, June 1.

But this crowded pub full of customers is an illusion created by the cast of just two.

Mark Dawson and Jill Priest play the pub landlord and landlady bickering with each other while engaging in flirty banter with their many customers.

Mark Dawson in Company of Ten's production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Mark Dawson in Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Anne Frizell, Abbey Theatre

Speedy costume changes and a vast repertoire of vocal and physical skills allow them to transform themselves into the dozen regulars pulling a stool up to the bar. Life passes in and out the doors leaving you feeling a bit punch drunk.

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"You get the authentic feeling of being in a Northern pub, a community pub. We’ve all missed that, and pubs have suffered quite a bit in this past year," says Rachel Barker, the assistant stage manager.

"It’s like choreography, with a whole host of characters coming and going, you’ll be laughing one minute and in tears the next!"  

Jill Priest in Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Jill Priest in Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Anne Frizell, Abbey Theatre

Director Andy Mills oversees a laugh-out-loud production with a tragedy at its heart. The play, which draws on stand-up comedy and clowning, is peppered with the poetic in its monologues meditating on the human condition.

The Company of Ten is teaming up with Save St Albans Pubs and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two, which can be seen at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans, is set in a pub.

Company of Ten's forthcoming production of Two, which can be seen at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans, is set in a pub. - Credit: Anne Frizell, Abbey Theatre

Viewers at home will see a refreshing selection of their favourite local watering holes making their debut on screen in the pre-show credits.

And if you’re watching in the theatre, you can order your drinks to be served to you in your seats.

So book your tickets, sit back with your tipple of choice and enjoy the company for ‘Two’.

Performances take place on the Abbey Theatre main stage from Tuesday, June 1 to Saturday, June 5 at 8pm. 

All performances are also being livestreamed. These truly are live every night and are not pre-recorded, so you can share the atmosphere of attending a live performance from the comfort of your own home.

To book tickets please go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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