Any play which bills itself as Under Milk Wood meets Phoenix Nights is always going to grab my attention.
Throw in Mancunian comic Justin Moorhouse in the starring role and you pretty much have me sold.
But to suggest that there are the only two reasons to see Two at the Royal Exchange Theatre would be doing a massive disservice to Moorhouse, his excellent co-star Victoria Elliott, director Greg Hersov and the writing genius of Jim Cartwright.
Two is no ordinary play, it’s an experience that will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about love, loss and life itself.
Set over the course of a night in a Northern pub, Moorhouse and Elliott play a variety of characters from the warring landlord and landlady with a tragedy neither wants to address to an assortment of regulars.
From the hilarious – wannabe Romeo Moth and his downtrodden girlfriend Maud – to the darkly disturbing with every character trait in between, the two cast members produce a tour-de-force through the sort of everyday lives one can see at any pub in the land.
As with all of Cartwright’s works, the material is never in doubt.
Teaming the words with actors that “get” the feel of the script is a bigger job entirely.
But in Moorhouse and Elliott, director Hersov has a cast which fits the work like an old glove and together they have produced one of the finest pieces of theatre I have ever seen.
During the final scene, the audience – among which sat a host of local stars – reached for the tissues as the on-stage characters put aside their comedic sniping and bickering and deliver a truly moving end to a fabulous production.
Two, which is on until February 25, is possibly Manchester’s first must see event of 2012.
For tickets log onto www.royalexchange.co.uk