Take Two Every Four Hours

Mon 19th – Mon 26th August 2013

reviews

Natasha Hyman

at 12:15 on 20th Aug 2013

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Freddy and James are placed in the same room in hospital; both suffering from serious illnesses, the two young men develop a close friendship. However, this dynamic is about to change forever. Henry Regan and Ross Stanley (Freddy and James respectively) set up immediate intrigue from the start. James is dozing in a reclining chair draped over with white sheets, when Freddy enters and the two suddenly start juggling. Conversations about staging a prison break and sexist chat about women ensues, as it gradually becomes clear where we are.

At first I was unsure as to whether the set-up would work, and at times it doesn’t. Defined by their scenario, the two actors have to engage the audience from a point of distinctly low energy. At times, the pace slowed considerably. However, even though most of the script consists of the two conversing about random topics from seated positions, Regan and Stanley ultimately manage to sustain momentum. This is no mean feat. There were a few moments where the script was overly self-aware, so that the rhythms of speech became unnatural. However, these are small criticisms in an overwhelmingly impressive performance.

Regan and Stanley convey all the difficulties of being out of control due to illness. They perfectly capture the need for pointless humour and continuous repartee in order to help pass the time. One particular moment, where Regan beatboxes as Stanley does a half-hearted Harry Potter rap, is a brilliant example. Regan’s delicate inflections expressly show Freddy’s struggle to articulate his feelings, despite his compulsion to voice these issues. This delicate approach makes for an extremely moving portrayal of being trapped in a hospital bed.

Although the pair develop an intimate relationship, the two also explore the flip side of this: their inevitable separation. They deftly handle this subject by moving from screaming rant to silence and fidgeting, to frank discussions about death. The play’s ending teeters on cliche, but avoids it due to Regan and Stanley’s complete conviction. The pair are visibly moved by the end, as are the audience. This is a phenomenal piece of theatre, and from a remarkable duo.

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Marnie Langeroodi

at 13:46 on 20th Aug 2013

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Henry Regan and Ross Stanley showcase their writing and acting talent in this fantastic play.

They succeed in creating totally believable chemistry through an honest and realistic performance. Every laugh, sigh, and look made me fully engage with story. The script faces the issue of terminal illness with sensitivity to a range of emotions. The play is therefore not needlessly depressing, but more complex. What makes it so bittersweet is that we see the humour and bravery as well as the fear and vulnerability. The characters don’t just feel sorry for themselves, but support and empathise with each other.

Freddy (Regan) and James (Stanley) use humour to boost morale, and, initially, this appears effective, but slowly their façades peel away to expose an emotionally and physically fragile existence. Their banter is charming, and I’m sure stole the hearts of every viewer. They reminisce about childhood, girls, drug-taking and pranks. James, though in chemotherapy, can laugh at Freddy’s ‘ridiculous hair’. In words and gestures, the boys are affectionate and show deep care for one another. The set portrays duality – each assigned to one bed and nightstand – but we recognise that they have come together in mutual dependence, and, tragically, we cannot imagine one without the other.

Amongst the wit and wordplay, the boys confide in each other about their insecurities - feeling alienated from or even abandoned by friends and family. Having suffered together, the friends have grown to be fervently loyal. We feel that these are real people, with lives beyond what they have been reduced to in a hospital ward. But we have been granted access to this safe and intimate space, a place of heightened sensitivity.

Ultimately, the play speaks to the fear of dying, and particularly, of being separated from those you love.

‘Take Two Every Four Hours’ is consistently on point, steady in momentum, and emotionally charged from start to end. Regan and Stanley’s performance never skips a beat. The play is moving and I won’t forget it. If you want to laugh and cry, I’d highly recommended discovering Freddy and James.

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