Theatre Review: 2 Lovers – Loneliness Reversal, Or Tests Of Togetherness

June 1, 2024

 

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

2 Lovers / Directed by Craig Morris / Theatre On The Square, Sandton, Johannesburg

 

Telling stories about relationships is an almost foolproof way of intersecting with the experience of at least some members of your audience. We haven’t all had the same connections with people, or made the same choices at the same junctures, but we’re aware of how some of those feel and of what it’s like to be either lonely or appreciated.

Ter Hollman’s play – he also stars as Dave, opposite Tessa Jubber’s Annabel – doesn’t delve too far into the complexities of the situation it presents, which is the making and then breaking of the bond between the two characters. It’s a sort of slice of life, stepping into the characters’ existence and stepping out again later without really making any judgments or presenting a specific philosophy.

Drama and interest are added by reversing the order of events – the piece begins with the couple bumping into each other some time after their break-up and ends on the night they met. And engagement with each character and their specific needs, foibles and worldviews is aided by regular and alternating fourth wall-ignoring monologues in which either Dave or Annabel addresses the audience and explains their feelings and the context in which those emotions were developed.

When considering the couple as a unit, it is harder to engage with the story, as it is hardly a grand romance: he’s an insecure man who’s a bit lonely; she’s a potty-mouthed, more confident woman who’s a bit lonely, and they get together for a while. And while they’re together, they give each other more than enough reason to not be together, with a number of more verbally explicit passages in the show feeling perhaps unnecessary in terms of making the point that partners and partnerships are often flawed and require work.

Jubber’s return to the stage after a long period of successful television work confirms that she is just as talented and convincing when telling stories live and in person, and Hollmann has an appealingly bashful presence at odds with his considerable height. And the pair are already collaborating on another project for later in the year – long may this momentum last.

 

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