Thursday 29 March 2018

StageWright's production of TWO

Taking on an intense play such as Jim Cartwright's TWO, was never going to be an easy option.

This play, which requires two actors to craft fourteen very different characters between them, is enormously demanding both emotionally and physically on the performers, not to mention necessitating great skill to pull it off.

Add to this the fact that actress Hannah Kilroy hadn't performed in a play before, and that this was also the debut production by a brand new, young and innovative director and theatre company - and what you're really asking for seems beyond the realms of possibility.

Yet that is exactly what StageWright Theatre Company did when I went to watch their production in The Victoria in Birmingham last night. In fact I would go as far as to say that their first ever staged production was nothing short of a run-away success.

Beautifully portrayed throughout, both Kilroy and her male counterpart, Chris Cooper, played each new character with startling insight and a fair dose of sensitivity. They were by turns, endearing, over-bearing, nauseating and funny. But above all they were credible - every word they uttered rang true.

As I writer myself, I understand the value of  realistic dialogue, but during a performance such as this, one can only hope that a good director will ensure that every last drop of meaning is wrung from every line. Tellwright delivered this in buckets, keeping her audience fully immersed and experiencing the full gamut of emotions.

Every ounce of comedy, every shred of stripped dignity, every fortuneless twist of fate suffered by these characters was laid bare before the audience's eyes. I didn't see a single person move their gaze from the riveting performance in front of them, so rapt was their attention.

But I must make a special mention about Kilroy. Her final portrayal of the 'Landlady' was nothing short of outstanding. Poignant and heart-rendingly real, I unashamedly cried, not only for how she had been emotionally abandoned since losing her child, but for all the unrealised what-ifs in her life.

From beginning to end this was a production that enthralled, captivated and entranced. And I have no doubt at all as to the professionalism and exceptional talent of all of those involved.

If you can, get tickets for the final night of this production. If you're lucky there may be some left. But I seriously doubt it.

And if you're wise, you'll note Laura Tellwright's name, and that of her company StageWright, because I think this young director is going places fast.

But don't just take my word for it. Go and see for yourself.

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