Two, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Jake Ryan, Rachael Reason,

It takes Two to run a successful public house, it takes two to be in a relationship that can be steady as a rock or toss and weave on the seas and bubbles of the foam filled, short measured bitterness that comes with watering down the spirit and overcharging the customer; it takes Two to pull the beers, listen to the stories and see the world beyond the optical illusion. It takes Two to remember the reason why working together in such an environment is ultimately a thrilling piece of comedy and the heartache that is the flip side of such genuine laughter.

The relationship between couples is magnified when you are inviting people into what effectively your home. It may be a business, it may have the air of congeniality, the open space of humour and sometimes party-like atmosphere, but it is also a place where people go to unburden themselves, where problems hang in the air like clouds, unseen at first to the naked eye, but soon those clouds gather rain, they darken the horizon and then flood the atmosphere, the slop trays get all dirty and greasy, the lines of communication are tangled and start to fur if they don’t get cleaned and the optics, those tumblers of spiritual relief, they sit in judgement and damn the hostility that builds up.

Jim Cartwright’s insightful play resonates because of the myopic look of that relationship between Landlord and their partner, the Landlady’s name above the door and the people that cross underneath, the welcome to all but wary of the differing personalities that are displayed, like a range of craft beers, barrelled lagers and wide range of whiskies, each one captures its own mood and the people behind the bar have to deal with each one in turn.

Gaynor La Rocca’s direction and the double handed, multi-role performance are integral to framing Mr. Cartwright’s words, the pressure and the atmosphere increasing until the release, the valve slowly having been turned and the words that used to accompany the drinking establishments up and down the country are heard and appreciated with the audience’s enjoyment of the evening spent in the local; Time gentlemen please.

It is in that release that Jake Ryan and Rachael Reason perform with absolute sincerity, not only the two northern, at the throats, public house owners but the array of comic asides in the form of customers that find their way into the welcome fires of their home.

A reminder of the inward looking romance of owning a pub and the reality of people invading your home on a daily basis, like Christmas with the family it is better to smile through gritted teeth and soak up the entertainment, pub life doesn’t get any better than Two.

Ian D. Hall