Theater Evaluation: Seize a Guinness and Two Pints at CoHo Theater5 min read

Purchase a Guinness in Coho Theater’s foyer earlier than coming into the intimately-lit set of Two Pints, and when you end up dealing with a flawless facsimile of an Irish pub, watching a barkeep glide by with a rag and tray of glasses—nicely, you get the purpose. You are there. You are within the viewers, however you are additionally in a pub with two outdated Irish guys. To be trustworthy, this could all occur even should you do not buy a Guinness, however it helps.

Two Pints is Third Rail Repertory Theatre’s season opener, and the primary in a pair of two-hander performs—the subsequent of which, Sanctuary Metropolis, guarantees to discover a relationship between two buddies who’re each undocumented immigrants. The season nearer, Middletown Mall, expands the twin dynamic into 4 buddies earlier than a karaoke contest. Third Rail particularly appears to think about their season as a complete, so it is price acknowledging this doable season-long arc of duality. The corporate’s managing creative director Maureen Porter described the upcoming season in Two Pints‘ playbill, writing, “on the core of every play is friendship.” 

Bruce Burkhartsmeier (left) and Mike O’Connell (proper) in “Two Pints.” Photograph by John Rudoff

Two-character performs have a fame for depth and heavy emphasis on dialogue over motion. They make nice sense for arts establishments in unstable occasions, offered you’ll find actors adequate to hold them off. Bruce Burkhartsmeier and Mike O’Connell—whose characters are by no means named within the play, however credited as One and Two in this system—carry this beautiful little diptych properly. By way of them, the play exhibits the place these males’s souls stay and what they’re like when the masks are down (Guinness helps), and it doesn’t want Monday-night soccer or shoot-’em-up motion to point out it.

All the things unspools between the 2 outdated buddies fretting over issues as totally different as a car-park ticket that received’t work and the ultimate phrases of a dying father. These characters descend from Beckett’s basic clowns, Vladimir and Estragon, they usually do credit score to the tragic, side-splitting comedy of their sort.

One struggles, understanding his father lies mortally in poor health in a hospital close to the pub. Two, we predict, may have peace and respite from his spouse. They agitate essential stuff: What does the leather-based on a gearshift really feel like? (Don’t ask.) Are girls totally different as a result of they don’t have tonsils? Which most cancers provides the most effective social cachet? Is that this how we slide into ageing? Why did German scientists, of all individuals, need to show the existence of an afterlife?

Third Rail Repertory constructed a flawless set of an Irish pub, replete with charming particulars. Photograph by John Rudoff

Introduced as three “rounds,” Two Pints makes use of two quick intermissions as a substitute of 1. The play’s first spherical is well-crafted stand-up. A joke begins, is artfully hid, and nails you on the finish. Whereas the phrases come from Irish novelist and playwright Roddy Doyle, the masterful timing, pacing, and narrative arc belong to the manufacturing’s director Scott Yarbrough, who by the way doubles because the silent barkeep. 

The second spherical reveals a darker aspect, principally from One. He rails towards scientists who label three pints in a single sitting is a binge, saying, “I’ve been on a binge since 1979.” Then he assaults docs: “They’ll all the time be the docs, and we’ll all the time be the sufferers.” One’s sorrow for his invisible father calls to thoughts Estragon’s nightly beatings in Ready for Godot. O’Connell’s excellent bodily and facial Irish-isms are the clown counterbalance to Burkhartsmeier’s darkness. When O’Connell tucks in his chin and leans again along with his higher physique, you might be without delay within the presence of each Irishman you’ve ever identified.

Mike O’Connell (left) Bruce Burkhartsmeier (proper) in “Two Pints.” Photograph by John Rudoff

Within the remaining spherical, the work’s lengthy comedian arc returns, however the gloves are actually off. Every man reveals essentially the most painful second of his life (Non-spoiler: For as soon as, it isn’t monks). There’s wrestling with the afterlife—each what one has to do to get there and what’s misplaced.

This play is deeply profitable—from its written conception to its staging and presentation to its unsurpassed appearing. Go see it within the tiny, snug Coho Theatre house. Purchase a Guinness on the counter to sip together with the 2 guys on the bar. 

Two Pints performs at CoHo Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, by way of Solar Nov 5, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Solar 2 pm, $25-47, tickets right here, really useful for mature audiences.

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