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Mr Monkey sees Two at the Royal Exchange Theatre, 23rd January

Mr Monkey looking at the Two poster outside the theatre Mr Monkey ventured onto the streets of Manchester for the press night of Two at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Mr Monkey studied a poster outside to check he had the right night, then scurried up to the Mezzanine Gallery to see Last Orders. From the Mezzanine he could see that one of the Royal Exchange bars had acquired a pool table, a table-football game, a quiz machine and a juke box, to fit in with the evening's performance and give a generally pub-like air to the theatre. Mr Monkey scampered to his seat, looking forward to an evening of proper Northern grimness and humour.

Two is set in a pub somewhere in the North-West of England sometime in the 1980s. While the Landlord and Landlady bicker, compete and try to show a cheerful united face to their clientele, on the other side of the bar the customers reveal their relationships, either via dialogues or internal monologues. Everything in the play relates to being part of a couple; as the Landlord says "They either come in pairs or end up that way".

Mr Monkey was surprised to find that only two actors - Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliot - were expected to play all fourteen parts.

He was also slightly surprised to see how little scenery there was. There's a circular bar surrounded by a carpet, worn by the continious shuffle of drinkers' feet and looking slightly sticky. All the bar fittings - cash registers, beer pumps, optics, glasses and everything are imaginary. This might make more work for the actors, but it saves on breakages, especially during the second half. Above the bar there's a marvellous chandelier made up of glasses of all kinds. It is brilliant thing to look at and if he'd been allowed to, Mr Monkey would have swarmed up it to see if the glasses included his favourite Belgian tipples.

Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliot as the Landlord and Landlady (Royal Exchange Theatre production photo) This production of Two is made outstanding by the acting talents of Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliot. Having seen Justin in Zack at the Exchange in 2010, Mr Monkey knew that he could do funny and had a strong stage presence, but was worried that it might end up as a one person show. Victoria Elliot more than held her own, and both handled the combination of different characters and emotional states brilliantly.

Even though Mr Monkey knew there were only two actors, at times he had to look closely to be sure, as the changes in body language, costume and voice were extremely convincing.

Mr Monkey recommends this play, but suggests that you take a decent supply of tissues, both for the humour and the emotional punch of the climax.

Two runs until February 25th 2012.

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