I had no choice tonight but to come straight home from Louth, after watching the performance of ‘Two’ by JamJar Productions with my friend Dawn and write this review. The show tonight had sold out and I believe right now there are a very limited number of seats available for the final 2 shows for tomorrow, Friday 10th and Saturday 11th February. Both shows deserve to sell out and if I didn’t want as many people to watch the show as possible I’d be buying another ticket myself and going to see the play again.
When I wrote the ‘preview’ on 20th January (Preview – ‘Two’ – JamJar productions – Louth) I wrote about an ‘intimate’ performance, but never really having seen a show like this before I didn’t know what to expect… well quite honestly, this was nothing like I might have even dreamt I was expecting. From the moment Dawn and I walked into the small, upstairs theatre, The Studio, in Riverhead Theatre Louth, we knew that we’d definitely feel a part of the show. With only 2 performers in the show, my head was definitely tricked into feeling there were more people coming on and off set throughout.
Our seats were right in the middle of the front row, which meant our feet were actually on the stage, right up close to the ‘set’ which was a traditional lounge bar, set with bar, tables, chairs, stools and beermats… it was sparsely furnished with no sign of any glasses, bottles, beer pumps or ash trays, but actually that didn’t matter, it was all about the ‘people’. From the time the lights came on indicating the start of the evening shift, until last orders were called and the lights turned out, we were part of the pub, the audience were in the pub, doing exactly what people do, watch the banter, look at characters and do what I personally love to do the most… ‘People Watch’.
For those of you reading this that are yet to see the show, obviously I don’t want to give too much away, but want to tell you enough to encourage you to take the plunge and buy one of those precious few tickets that might be left by the time you read this… Trust me, nothing I’ve written here will detract from the experience you’ll get being part of the audience for this intimate production!
As the pub opens it’s doors for the evening, we are introduced to the landlord and landlady… for those of you who have spent time in your ‘local’ (and I did for many years in South London where I worked as a bar maid for a good number of years) you’d recognise the pair behind the bar with their bickering and banter… I think it can be quite typical behaviour when two people are faced with spending so much time together in such close proximity. They are the only constant throughout the show, and as they leave the set to stock up on crisps, or the odd barrel replacement, new characters enter through the doors.
We then see the old woman in her shawl, enjoying a bit of respite from her loneliness and a little evening tipple; then the fabulous, eccentric, loud and confident ‘Moth’ made an entrance… I have known quite a few ‘Moth’s’ in my time and I’m sure a few of the ladies in the audience have too! When his beloved ‘Maudie’ comes in and catches him in the act, flirting with anyone and everyone (literally), she has a few harsh words, but following his compelling, energetic ‘Saturday Night Fever’ moves and some excuses, which she’s obviously heard before, Maudie softens, and persuades him that they may have a future after all! Some brilliantly written, wonderfully hilarious and heart warming moments that had the audience laughing out loud and really relating to people they know or have known in the past!
We were brought down to a more sober level with the entrance of the old man… he obviously missed his deceased wife terribly and came to ‘the pub’ to relive some old memories of being with her. Although a slightly more sombre section, the audience felt a level of sensitivity towards him but I’m not sure if it was just me, but I’ll never look at a ‘brown teapot’ in the same light…
In between banter between Landlord and Landlady, Mrs Iger’s arrived and we had a few minutes to really get inside her personality; loud, arrogant, bossy and obviously domineering, the complexity of her character became even more apparent as Mr Iger joined her… talk about chalk and cheese, Mr Iger being very timid and obviously weak willed but totally doting on his overbearing wife… quite a complex couple I would say and although very funny in places, a certain amount of empathy must have been felt by the whole audience towards Mr Iger.
Following a short interval, we then met Lesley and Roy… it was fascinating that we were privileged as an audience, to be privy to such private and intimate conversations that we wouldn’t normally hear. Although you can generally read body language across a room, to hear what is being said so clearly, whilst knowing what is being said should be very private, was a very difficult scene to watch. The emotional rollercoaster was up and down like the ‘Big One’ at Blackpool and once again we were plunged downwards into a chasm of darkness by a couple with very obvious problems that you wonder how and where they will both end up.
Fred and Alice changed things up again as they ‘turned on the TV’ and sat discussing the programme; Alice was obviously losing her marbles a bit but they definitely enjoyed each others company and made each other laugh…’Fat Fat Palomino’!
Then came ‘the other woman’, desperately wanting to be seen and caught out, but trying to keep a low profile…
Finally, after helping a little lost boy who had been left outside with pop and crisps, we are left once again with Landlord and Landlady… last orders taken, glasses cleared (no not the ones on my face!), and Landlady finally takes the opportunity to tell Landlord exactly how she’s feeling. It’s totally unexpected, tempers flare, emotions bubble to the surface, and we finally get to see the real reasons behind their behaviours…
Personally by the end of the show I felt like I’d been put through an emotional wringer – washed out and hung out to dry… we were built up then knocked down several times, we saw characters emerge, tempers, friendships, despair, horror and some love, but most of all we saw people, we saw characters.
My utmost respect and congratulations to the ‘Two’ – Sophie Grundy and Jamie Harris; talking to Sophie very briefly afterwards she said one of the most difficult things for her in the show was to keep changing from one accent to another, especially Liverpool; we heard Yorkshire, London, Liverpool and others in between, all perfectly believable from both Jamie and Sophie! With limited costume changes, mainly using accessories to distinguish a new/different character, we completely relied on the voices and the characteristics to identify each pub goer. I was in awe of the performance as a whole, to watch a show with only 2 in the cast, but actually see a pub full of people, with 14 characters, and constant dialogue, and with such varying emotions, was a massive achievement, so again, well done to both of you!
I’d also like to mention the rest of the team; Directors – Rob Mapletoft and Holly Mapletoft, Roy Hobson for the lighting design, Rob Mapletoft again for operating the lighting and Holly Mapletoft for Sound Design and Operation. The poster used here and in my preview was designed by Jerry Smith. An additional thank you is also given to the ‘local’ Woolpack, Louth for the loan of the furniture (and also for our delicious pre-theatre meal tonight). Matt Sargent and Nick Kendall were also given thanks for performance advice and sound support respectively.
I also want to personally thank Hugh Poths… the very distinguished gentleman in the immaculate tuxedo, welcoming guests as they entered the theatre… He obviously recognised my name when I went to pick up my tickets as the ‘Review Writer’ and was very complimentary about my blog/review writing. Thank you Hugh, if my reviews get just one more person to buy a ticket for a show then I’m happy – it’s all about promoting the brilliance of amateur theatre and I love doing it!
In the programme Director, Rob Mapletoft said:
“It’s been a joy to work with Jamie and Sophie (and of course my wife Holly, on ‘Two’. I must confess I’d never heard of the play, but once I’d given it a good read, I relished the challenge. Two actors, 14 characters, a range of ages and potentially an audience of 270! So no pressure then…
I love how the play works on a number of levels. Superficially how all of the characters put on a public face – they are all in a pub after all – but scratch the surface and each character shows a number of hidden depths, each with their own anxieties, issues and concerns.
We have opted for a minimal set for a number of reasons. The time and cost factor was a part of it, but mostly we wanted an uncluttered back drop, thus allowing you to fully immerse yourselves into the skewed realities the characters offer. The dialogue and relationships are key here, not the fanciness of set and props.
So pull up a stood, refresh your pint, and sit back and enjoy. We really hope you enjoy the show, and leave feeling refreshed and yet reflective.”
The Company – JamJar Productions
JamJar Productions was set up in September 2015 by Louth based director and actor Jamie Harris. It’s main ethos is to produce and perform plays for small casts that are not often seen on the local stage. The first production, in collaboration with Hambledon Productions, was in July 2016 and it was the Anthony Shaffer classic ‘Sleuth’. It enjoyed sell out success and was praised by audiences, which then lead the way to tonight’s performance of Jim Cartwright’s ‘Two’. Vastly different shows, but sharing two things in common for which JamJar strives… great scripts, and small casts. Plans are already in place for JamJar’s third production, which will be brought to the Riverhead Theatre in Late 2017 or early 2018. Watch this space!
‘Two’ is running from 9th-11th February 2016 at 7.30pm. Adults £9, Under 18 £7
Box Office Telephone: 01507 600350 or go to Louth Playgoers