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James Cowan reviews Dispense Theatre’s ‘Two’


“One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one”

This is most certainly the message of Cartwright’s sublimely written ‘Two’, celebrating it’s 21st Anniversary this year. Focusing on a selection of misfitting couples and the lonely single half’s of the diseased and deceased all set in their local. A pub that happens to be run by the most misfitting couple of the bunch, a landlord and landlady, all smiles on the surface but who are barely concealing a hilarious and often tragic hatred.

All of this is played out with only two actors and so is a mammoth task to take on however I am pleased to say that Simon Pennicott and Nicky Diss achieved a truly enjoyable and moving production. Cartwright’s plays (such as Road), if handled incorrectly can feel as though one is watching a series of audition pieces linked with the occasional conversation. However Matthew Parker directs his actors marvellously and truly embraces the high theatricality of the writing and as such the audience is provided with a rich tapestry of personalities and relationships. It is a further testament to the writing and interpretation that I was able to easily identify these characters from local pubs in my own memory.

This is massively supported by the venue; ‘The World Famous Dirty Dick’s Wine Vault’, basically a basement bar of Dirty Dicks pub (opposite Liverpool Street station). This space provides real beer pumps and props, and real pub smells, lighting and seats. All of these elements combined ensure an air of authenticity and for those of you who, like me, spent most their teenage years in their local, it provides a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.

It is this atmosphere that really allows the actors to punch home their characters. Nicky Diss’ downtrodden ‘Maud’ was brilliantly comical and endearing, whilst Pennicott’s lonely, quiet old man was performed with beautiful melancholy. However it is the dysfunctional relationship between the Landlord and Landlady (or ‘Prick’ and ‘Bitch’ as they call each other), and the growing tension of their story throughout that really held my attention. I couldn’t wait for them to come storming back out into the space to slag each other off, so I could return to speculating what might be their underlying problem with each other and their lives.

All in all, this was a fantastic production and the only criticism I could make would be that the vocal volume was times far too loud for the space however with a full house of Rioters I’m sure this would not be a problem!

It’s playing only till next Tuesday so grab it while you can, but make sure you take some friends or else you’re just another lonely soul in pub full of lonely souls.

Till next time Rioters!!!


Venue: Dirty Dick's Pub (opposite Liverpool Street Station)

Price: £8, £6 (concs)

Date: 25/09/10 - 28/09/10


COMPETITION: 1x Pair of tickets to attend Dispense Theatre's 'Two', written by Jim Cartwright at Dirty Dick's Pub at 20.00 on Saturday, 25th September.

To claim your tickets, send an email to with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ box. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: Jim Cartwright trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He is probably best known for being the playwrite of the film whose cast included Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent. Which film is it?

A: 1) Little Voice .2) Star Wars .3) The Italian Job .4) Moulin Rouge! 

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