Two For The Seesaw

Posted by Laurence Green

Laurence Green is pleasantly surprised by Gary Condes' rendition of William Gibson's 60-year-old romantic drama, Two For the Seesaw.

IIt is always a pleasure when a play exceeds expectations, as I feared William Gibson’s 60-year-old tale of an up-and-down romance Two For The Seesaw would be stuck in a time warp, but Gary Condes’ revival at the Trafalgar Studios, marking the Buckland Theatre Company’s first west-end production, proves just as relevant today as when it was originally staged.

Jerry, a brooding Nebraska lawyer who has relocated to New York to escape an unhappy marriage, meets Gittel, a beatnik dancer from the Bronx whose life is drifting after a number of failed relationships. Despite their very different backgrounds and personalities, this unlikely couple embark on a bittersweet and tempestuous love affair which forces them to confront with heartfelt honesty, the very nature of who they are and what they want from love and life. However, their relationship hits the rocks when their lingering ties to previous partners and the differences in their backgrounds and temperaments come to the fore.

The piece, played for more than 750 performances when it open on Broadway in 1962, starring Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft who made her stage debut in the role and it was later adapted into a Hollywood film starring Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum. I suppose one of its enduring qualities is that it explores the male/ female dynamic in all its flagrant messiness and enduring hopefulness when embarking on an affair and the journey of self-examination that results. Yet although it is an enjoyable work laced with witty dialogue and made more affecting in the intimate surrounding of the Trafalgar Studio, it is also a somewhat flimsy affair without a great deal of complexity or psychological depth.

Designer max Dorey, though has done a fine job of recreating the two characters’ apartments side by side on a single stage with Gittel’s bed at the centre and glimpses of a small hallway at the back.

The two actors do much to bring their characters to life. Indeed Charles Dorfman as Jerry and a particularly poignant Elsie Bennett as Gittel manage to convey the honesty and vulnerability of the people they are portraying when faced with the truth of their situation.

Don’t go expecting too much and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Two For The Seesaw

Runs until Saturday 4 August 2018 at Trafalgar Studios.

Box Office: 0844 871 7632

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