Theatre for Two is a new interactive experience by collaborative theatre company We Are Kilter. Consisting of an anthology of four micro plays that are part-scripted and part-improvised, the show invites the audience to interact with the performers and shape the story as they play out. Centered around the themes of isolation and loneliness, the show relies on direct audience address and an innovative stage design to create a warm and intimate experience for, as the name suggests, two audience members at a time, which makes it an excellent choice for a date night or, as I experienced it, a lovely night out alone when you are simply tired of staring at screens craving some human connection.
Each of the four 10-12 minute pieces are written by different writers, namely ‘Reptile’ by Macadie Amoroso where you find yourself giving advice to a woman on how to deal with a bad breakup, ‘Share-My-Home Companion’ by Gabriella Leon where you find yourself waiting for someone (or something) to arrive in the company of an eccentric man who has a few odd games and confessions up his sleeve, ‘Gluten Free Chocolate Crispy Caramel Mini Bite’ by Tabby Lamb where you’re in conversation with a trans woman at the bus stop which quickly turns into a shared private protest and finally, ‘The Recluse Who Lives On The HIll’ by Ryan Lane wherein you find yourself interviewing a yesteryear movie star who is having trouble reconciling with her declining public fame. The first and the third piece are performed by Mary Malone whilst the second and the fourth piece are performed by Ryan Lane. Each of the texts places the audience at the centre of a unique scenario where they, the audience, are cast to play alongside the performer as another character.
Whilst each play has a completely different scenario that are not connected to each other, there is a common thread of awkward human interactions and building solidarity with a stranger that stands out. Both Malone and Lane do justice to the characters they embody, with Malone cleverly using audience inputs to introduce and endow the fictional world of the story whilst Lane relying more on their character’s actions and reactions to the audience to move the action along. In particular, the proximity of the performers to the audience played an interesting role in this interaction as even a subtle nod, tilt of the head or a soft sigh had a much greater impact on the pace and rhythm of the story. The interactive narrative setup is complemented by the design of the performance space which consists of a custom-designed pop-up venue where the audience and the performer are face-to-face with each other in two small self-contained connected rooms. These are separated by clear perspex wall through which the audience and the performer can see, hear and perceive each other, with both rooms having a microphone to help amplify their voices. Designed by Ioana Curelea, it is this choice of staging that is the biggest strength of this piece, allowing the physical proximity and distance between the performer and audience to create a heightened playing space that was refreshingly intimate. The direction by Ed Theakston made great use of this phenomenon, allowing the audience to not just be drawn into the world of the characters but also fill the silences with their own quips and remarks, which were then incorporated skilfully by the performers to move the story along.
To summarize, Theatre for Two charms you completely with its unique design and quartet of stories, offering a refreshing and delightful way to engage in some good ol’ theatrical play that makes you want to stay much longer after the curtain comes down.
You can sign up for one or all four plays available under Theatre for Two as it travels to Stanley Arts Centre (12th & 13th June), The Turbine Theatre (26th & 27th June) and the Colab Taven (6th & 7th July). More info available at: https://www.weare-kilter.co.uk/theatre-for-two
Reviewer: Gaurav Singh Nijjer
Reviewed: 6th June 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★