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by Anthony Neilson

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Tebut Isfar

ta ' Clare Azzopardi




















AUTHOR: Jim Cartwright

VENUE: St James Cavalier

DATES: 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 April 2006

EXTRA: 05, 06, 07 May 2006

CAST: Edward Mercieca, Pia Zammit

SUMMARY: “Laughter,love,lamentations and lager…” Set in a northern pub owned by a savagely bickering husband and wife, TWO is a series of short vignettes that skilfully combines pathos and humour, with all fourteen characters played by just two actors who drag us through the whole gamut of emotions. These amazing parts should leave the performers breathless and the audience stunned, silent and scratching their heads wondering how it was all done.During the course of the evening in this pub, assorted customers pass in and out; including the hilarious Alice and Fred who’ve “never been the same since Elvis died” and the abusive husband and his terrified partner whose power struggle is one of the most emotionally charged scenes. Towards the end, a little boy is left behind by his father—an event which triggers a movement towards a fragile reconciliation between the pub couple, as their own dark tragedy is revealed. All these characters are linked by the bar, but also by their battle with love and their conflicts between public facade and private emotion. This is a hilarious and moving play and is guaranteed to touch a nerve. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you have a pint!


Best Performances in 2005/6: Edward Mercieca in TWO, Pia Zammit in TWO - Showtime, 02/06/06

In Unifaun’s production the actors were Pia Zammit and Edward Mercieca and both were absolutely outstanding. - Showtime, 02/06/06

After two weekends of full-houses at the theatre-in-the-round at the St James Centre for Creativity, Unifaun’s production of Jim Cartwright’s dazzling play Two is to play for yet another three performances this weekend at St James... by popular demand. —Showtime, The Times, 5-5-06

The incredibly sharp and truthful writing, coupled with two exceptional performances by Pia Zammit and Edward Mercieca have combined to make Two a must-see production. —Showtime, The Times, 5-5-06

In this multi-tiered, multi-character piece, all the parts are played by Pia and Edward, who change characters and costumes in the twinkling of an eye. The script is often very funny and always extremely profound. Two is in fact in danger of throwing up two of the finest performances of the current theatre season. Its playwright Jim Cartwright attended the first night and was both totally sincere and unstinting in his praise for both performers. —Showtime, The Times, 5-5-06

This is one to savour, so if you haven’t caught it yet make sure you get a seat for this weekend. Two will be performed tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, May 5 to 7 at 7, p.m. —Showtime, The Times, 5-5-06

Losers All

IN Jim Cartwright’s TWO (St James Cavalier), Unifaun have found a play that provides good entertainment, an excellent vehicle for a couple of actors, and an environment that is not the
much too familiar one of middle class problems and aspirations.  It is set in a pub in a northern
English town, run by a couple whose marriage clearly has run out of steam for a long while. The
actors who perform these two parts also play several other parts. So the play develops into what musical performers call a bravura piece both for the playwright who has to come up with a wide variety of reasons to get one or more characters off the stage so as to enable them to enter a
minute or two later (sometimes less than this) in another role, and for the performers who have to create two galleries of greatly different characters.
I do not think Cartwright aspired to create a microcosm of workingclass life in the England of the late 20th century, but he has come up with a convincing list of people for whom the pub is a refuge or an arena for their social activities.
The round theatre at St James, with its shape and intimacy, provides a fine setting as a pub when a heavy wooden counter backed by a huge mirror and a few chairs and tables are added to it. There are no beer pumps, bottles or glasses in view, for all the pouring and drinking
is mimed.
With a few sound effects, and gutsy performances by Edward Mercieca and Pia Zammit as the
pub owners (and the rest, of course) Jon Rosser creates the pub atmosphere realistically, but that is just the starting point.
More importantly, he makes the little dramas of the pub owners and their patrons come vividly to life. In one of the sketches that make up the play, the sickeningly flirtatious and chronically unfaithful man waiting for his girl, conducts a flirtation with a woman in the audience, thus helping to break down still farther the “wall” between actors and audience.
Both Zammit and Mercieca have come up with a range of characters that are always clearly distinguished from one another, never less than good, and sometimes brilliant.
The casting of Mercieca, however, creates one problem. He is a big man in a number of ways, so he does not fit in easily as the shy little man with a nympho of a wife, who lusts after big, strong men, and when towards the end he plays a little boy who comes to the pub to look for his errant father, he is nothing less than farcical – and I doubt if Cartwright meant this character to
be so very funny.
In all the other parts he cannot be seriously faulted. He and Zammit use a consistent regional accent (am I right in thinking that it had some Midlands elements?) but right at the end, when the pub owner tells his wife that he still loves her and has  never thought her blameworthy for
their young son’s death several years before, Mercieca plays with such deep emotion that he forgets his technique and uses a mainstream accent – or at least he did so on the night I watched the play. This is a minor matter.
His pub owner has all the false and forced high spirits of a man who above all wants people to want to drink, and both he and Zammit are very good at modulating in a second from their hearty addresses to patrons to their never-ending private duel.
I enjoyed Mercieca’s listing of a very long order just made by the members of a stag party. It had the lucidity and confidence of a professional in catering. Of his other parts, his faithless
young man in the baseball cap (worn with the peak over the nape, of course) is as funny as he is despicable, expecting his much-suffering girl (Zammit in intense mood with one great explosion)
to pay for all his drinks, and proposing marriage only when he fears that his source of funds is
being cut off.
Darker, and only occasionally comical, is the bully whose wife is little more than a slave, forced to keep her eyes down whether sitting or walking in the pub. This is a portrait of domestic sadism, climaxing in the slap he gives his wife after inviting her with false gentleness to take back her seat next to him. 
His widower who drinks to his dead wife is one of two studies in pure sadness, the other being
Zammit’s psychologically destroyed old woman, who drinks alone before going back to her incontinent husband at home.
Zammit’s pub owner’s wife provides a strong adversary for Mercieca’s husband, her bitterness
seeping through every so often, her smiling addresses to customers clearly a relief from the constant bickering with her spouse.  Her defiant drinking and her angry breaking of glasses and bottles in the play’s dark close are not melodramatic, but the expression of a suffering that is incessant, and her avoidance of her husband’s attempted embrace is chilling.
Of her other parts, I enjoyed most her hard woman with an inflamed sexual imagination for big, wellendowed men and a contempt for her weak husband. Cartwright makes her feel a touch of pity for him when he pathetically tries to show what a man he is by asking to be served before all the others at the bar, but the touch of farce as the light comes down on the episode, and we hear her rejecting the husband’s pitiful appeal not to have to sleep on the floor, sees the script going too far.
In her scene with Mercieca’s faithless, flirtatious young man, Zammit makes us sense her  building up internal tension until her indignation erupts and she makes the man hear what he should have heard long before. Or has she done it before, as futilely as she has done it now?
The man comes back to his flirtatious charge upon the other young woman as soon as his girl is out of the way. The two actors can rightly regard their performances in Two as being among their memorable ones. If you have not seen the play already, try to see if there is an empty seat tonight.

-Paul Xuereb, The Sunday Times, 07/05/06






Edward Mercieca and Pia Zammit in TWOPia Zammit and Edward Mercieca as the loveless young couple

Edward Mercieca as the old manEdward Mercieca being dominated by Pia Zammit

The landlord and the landladyEdward Mercieca as the thug and Pia Zammit as his suffering wife

Edward Mercieca and Pia Zammit longing for ElvisPia Zammit as the other woman

pictures by Joseph A. Borg