Push 04 season
Rashan Stone is better known as a fine actor who is about to star again in Simply Heavenly at The Trafalgar Studios. His first play, Two Step, is part of Push 04, a season of new Black British theatre, opera and ballet.
Lenny (Derek Griffith) is a success. He has kicked the booze, gone to college and is a budding writer. He also has a trophy wife, young and white, and a teenaged son.
He has a guilty secret that he must expiate, so he travels to Islington to visit his old flame, Mona. Where he is a born-again bore, she is full of life and wit. It helps Dona Croll that her character gets all of the best lines when they meet, while Lenny delves ineffectually into his soul.
Life isn't simple for Mona either, as she is haunted by the ghost of their miscarried daughter, a constant presence. The tables begin to turn after Lenny takes a whisky and shares Mona's bed for the first time in 32 years.
The play livens up considerably when Lenny's son AJ, played by Ricci McLeod making his professional debut, arrives to find dad. He is a fine creation, full of bile and confusion but with a good heart.
AJ gives as good as he gets when he jousts with the increasingly unhinged Mona. After his departure, she is forced to face up to her own shortcomings and, as Lenny recovers his equilibrium, hers drains away.
Rashan Stone has created two believable characters and, particularly in the AJ scenes, some sparkling dialogue. Lenny is something of a cipher as he ploughs the furrow of born-again belief without ever becoming fully human.
Despite director Josette Bushell-Mingo's efforts, the supernatural element doesn't entirely work. Mona increasingly appeals to a spirit that is as much herself as her invented daughter but her drift into insanity comes too quickly to be entirely convincing.
Designer Bernadette Roberts' set represents a dowdy flat but ingeniously includes every room somewhere. The bedroom is suspended in mid air, symbolising Mona's struggle to remain grounded, and possibly also temptation.
Two Step is worth a visit to see good performances from Dona Croll, especially when Mona is in vibrant mode, and Ricci McLeod. Though she has hardly any speech, another stage debutante Remi Wilson also shows great ghostly promise.
This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version
Reviewer: Philip Fisher