Two and Two Make Sex
Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon
Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
“There’s nothing funnier than watching other people try to cope with situations which are just ever so slightly beyond their control,” writes cast member John Goodrum in the programme for Two and Two Make Sex.
That may be one of the reasons why this farce is still performed today even though some examples of the genre are a bit creaky around the edges and show their age.
Goodrum’s words could prove to be prophetically ironic: there is potential in Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon’s play for the cast to lose control in the second half as the action hurtles forwards at breakneck speed. Thankfully the cast in this presentation by Tabs Productions are mostly very experienced. Their timing is impeccable as they cope admirably with a challenging script.
There are no slamming doors and only one instance of an actor having his trousers around his ankles. Instead, mistaken identities and confusion over people’s motives combine to keep the actors on their toes right until the end.
Two and Two Make Sex is a period piece: it’s set in 1973 in a time of flared trousers, kipper ties and Zapata moustaches.
George, who is middle-aged and going through a virility crisis, is having an affair with 20-year-old Jane. George’s wife Clare suspects that something is going on and, after talking to Ruth, her friend who’s an agony aunt, decides to get her own back. Sneaky meetings and cancelled trysts lead to characters convening with embarrassing results.
In some respects, George and Jane are not credible characters. George is always ringing his wife to tell her not to worry because he will be late getting home while Jane is a passive young woman who willingly puts up with George’s odd behaviour.
John Goodrum gives a solid performance, accurately putting over George’s weakness as the reluctant womaniser who becomes obsessive about losing his hat and wants ointment rubbed on him when he has the first sign of a cold.
Emma Vickery—long, flowery dress, kaftan waistcoat and big earrings—shows Jane as a loving person with a troubled past who sees George as the father she lacked as she was growing up.
Susan Earnshaw as Clare is impressive as the perceptive wife who is determined to bring some spice into her life now that her 20-year marriage has gone stale.
The character of Nick, Jane’s flat mate, seems superfluous at times but David Martin comes into his own when Nick pretends to be a psychiatrist and has his ego inflated.
Sarah Wynne Kordas and David Gilbrook give dependable performances as Ruth and Jane’s long-lost dad Jack, contributing to a major confrontation at the end.
Karen Henson directs with assuredness, getting a good number of laughs out of the script and ensuring the pace rarely drops. The set, two contrasting rooms side by side, is especially atmospheric.
Two and Two Make Sex may not be to everyone’s taste: it can hardly be described as a classic and the characters aren’t particularly memorable. But Tabs Productions performs and stages the play well; it appears to be just what its mature audience needs for a good evening’s entertainment.
Reviewer: Steve Orme