Two, Jim Cartwright
Starring Emma Taylor and Frazer Hadfield
Dir. Ben Anderson and Joanna Bowman, produced by Natalie English and Ali Saldanha
This review is going to be very simple. Two, which went up Monday and Tuesday in Aikman’s, is one of the best things I’ve seen in St Andrews. Emma Taylor and Frazer Hadfield have spent their four years in St Andrews building reputation and skills as some of the most talented actors in their year. Ben Anderson and Joanna Bowman, codirectors, are the president and president-elect of Mermaids, respectively, each with a number of successful shows under their belts. Natalie English and Ali Saldanha are two of the most competent, professional producers in St Andrews. And the show was in Aikman’s, with a bar that was open during pre-show and intermissions, staffed by Emma and Frazer. Add in a cracker of a script, simple and elegant transitions, and an end that packed an emotional punch. and you have Two. And it certainly was something incredible to see.
The basic premise was this – the action takes place in a Northern pub, with Hadfield and Taylor playing the Landlord and Landlady, occasionally trading off to become patrons in the pub to varying effect. Hadfield’s turn as the ladies’ man only in a relationship with Maude for money brought the audience nearly to tears of laughter, while his outright brilliant portrayal of an aging widower brought them to tears for the opposite reason. Taylor had her own moments of brilliance as well- from her magnetic turn as an abused wife (I have very rarely seen stillness so captivating) to her persistently upbeat landlady chatting with the audience before the show even started. But it was the end of the show in which the coldness in the relationship between the landlady and landlord was finally explained that brought everything crashing (literally) down. It’s revealed that the death of the couple’s child seven years before has frozen their relationship, with little hope of it ever thawing. Taylor and Hadfield were utterly beautiful, gut-wrenching, and brutally honest in their portrayals of two fundamentally shattered people who are unsure if they can continue, but yet still must.
Overall, this show was brilliant, and one of the most subtly beautiful shows I have seen in my four years here. It was a masterclass in beautifully natural acting from Taylor and Hadfield, and also one of the most impressively directed shows I’ve seen, in a way that elevated the script from what could have been something incredibly flat to something I’m still thinking about days later. This was an impressive finish for some of the most prolific Mermaids to tread the boards (well, the Barron floor) in the four years I have been here. Well done to all involved.