Key for Two review: ‘needs much more effort’

Wilf Wort as Gordon and Pippa Cameron as Anne in 'Key for Two'.
Wilf Wort as Gordon and Pippa Cameron as Anne in ‘Key for Two’.

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Green Door Theatre Company’s Key for Two is a modern comedy on the hilarities that can ensue from being a ‘kept woman’. This is a farce, which with every ring of the doorbell, takes the audience onto another step on the ladder of chaos. Although there is much tension among the characters, and no shortage of awkward moments, the audience can be sure to spend an evening in the company of a light-hearted comedy.

St. Chad’s quad is, for the most part, a very suitable venue for the mood of the production. The atmospheric lighting coordinated by the tech team added to the play’s domestic setting. This was also aided by the relatively small amount of seating available compared to the spaciousness of the venue. However, this is also a wise decision made by the production team, because of the amount of projection that is required for all the humorous quips within the play to be audible to the audience. Yet despite the appropriate volume which was attained by the actors, some needed to slow down and work on the enunciation of their lines, for all of the action to be completely audible.

Christie Clark, portraying Harriet, although possessing a convincing and consistent physicality demanded by this particular type of drama, was frequently high-pitched and too hasty in the utterance of her lines. She was by far not the only one guilty of giving a disjointed flow to the action. Jamie Strowman, portraying one of Harriet’s lovers, Alec, rarely changed his tone of voice or pace, which ensured that his lines had a monotonous delivery and were on occasion incongruous to his actions. Pippa Cameron, playing Anne, despite being almost consistently hilarious, has an initially fractured character development from demure to sarcastic housewife. The moment of change lacks reason and is therefore painfully awkward, damaging the integrity of the role.

A further misstep of the cast were their occasional outbreaks into snorts of laughter. Although this can be understandably attributed to the nature of the material or first-night nerves, this must nevertheless be ironed out to preserve the unity of the play and the audience’s full immersion in it.

Wilf Wort portraying the other lover, Gordon, must however be commended for being one of the only actors able to balance the appropriate amount of physicality with the necessary gruff tone of voice, resulting from his injury. He commanded the audience’s attention with his stumbling on his broken leg and performed his part with full conviction throughout the entire play. Others must be careful to not step out of their characters, and not fall into basic errors such as running with cups, supposedly filled with hot tea, across the stage. The play most definitely picked up after the interval, with the entrance of minor characters Richard, Mildred, and Magda. They brought new energy to the action, which finally superseded the largely lacklustre acting of the first half.

Transitions sometimes lacked the desired speed. The same can be said about the occasional prompt which had to be given to remedy forgotten lines. Unfortunately this disrupts the emotional involvement of the audience, but due to the infrequency of these incidents it can easily be ironed out by the next performance.

Overall this is a production which still needs much more effort to be truly enjoyable. It has not managed to find its niche, being not quite a farce and yet not quite anything else, which is only aggravated by the minor slips recurring throughout the entire performance. There is little to none that is outstanding about the play’s script itself, yet the production can still be salvaged through further improvement by the actors, which hopefully in future performances will ensure an evening pleasantly spent.

‘Key for Two’ will be on until Mon 23 Nov at St. Chad’s College Quad. Book your tickets here

Photograph: Jimmy Black

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