This has been a fantastic year for theatre at Goldsmiths, and the term concludes with another triumph with Laurie Ogden’s splendidly written play Twix. Twix follows the parallel stories of Jamie and Henry, two young men navigating turbulent junctures in their lives. Both main characters and all supporting characters are performed solely by Christopher Brown (Jamie) and Jeremy Franklin (Henry), a feat that is wonderfully executed. Christopher and Jeremy proved themselves more than capable of carrying two intersecting storylines on their own during the scratch performance in Studio 3 on May 27th. The feedback received by the cast and crew at the end of the performance was overwhelmingly positive, with only a few minor adjustments to be made before Twix is scheduled to be presented at the Fringe.
With such a minimal set, just ten chairs on a bare stage, the soundscapes created by Vivien ten Have were crucial in truly immersing the audience. With such limited time, the version of the play experienced by the audience on the 27th was unfinished, and yet so polished. It was clear how much energy had been put into developing Twix, and the performance of the play at the Fringe will certainly be even better.
While the stage begins in chaos, with scattered chairs strewn across the performance area, it ends in order. As each chair is put in place by the actors, the stories of their characters begin to align, and each replacement of a chair is like a countdown to their meeting. In the final scene, what should have been a climactic, violent moment is instead calm and unexpectedly funny. Henry’s fixation on his big interview and the anxiety this generates is mirrored in Jamie’s little brother Tom. Science enthusiast Tom is played in part by both Christopher and Jeremy, and this brings the youth of the two characters into uncomfortably sharp focus.
Although the multiple roles being portrayed by only two actors was at times confusing, this was a moment where sharing a third role really worked to show how Henry and Jamie were still only boys themselves. Collectively, Jeremy and Christopher tackled such a wide range of roles, occupying different spaces and different timelines, and yet completely in sync.
The choreographic skills of Cara Withers and Molly Evans were impressive to see in action, particularly the scenes in which Jamie interacts with his brother Tom by play fighting, in which Christopher and Jeremy were reacting to one another on opposite sides of the stage, but occupying the same narrative space. This scene is a fantastic example of how Ogden’s writing and Withers’ and Evans’ directing combined to create a multilayered, energetic and interlinked narrative, where the two actors are able to explore the lives of their interrelated characters through movement as well as dialogue.
The script bounces between stories, gathering momentum as Jamie and Henry negotiate moments of captivating emotional vulnerability. Christopher’s portrayal of Jamie was especially moving during a scene in which Jamie’s last-ditch attempt to gather money ends in disaster. The scene builds towards an eventual release of tension that happens with laughter rather than tragedy. Likewise, Jeremy’s intuitive performance as anxious and intellectually frustrated Henry was funny and thoughtful.
While Jamie tries to live down others’ perceptions of him in the fallout of his father’s actions, Henry struggles to live up to his own expectations of himself. Like the Twix Henry offers to Jamie upon their meeting, the two characters share the stage and their narratives. The inevitability of their meeting fuels an emotional and uncertain journey that plays out in front of a breathless audience, and I have no doubts that the audience at the Fringe will be as enraptured by this sensitive and clever production as we were at Goldsmiths.
Twix will return to a London stage at Camden Fringe on August 17th 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Canal Cafe. It will be hitting Scottish stages from August 22nd-27th 2016 at The Space on the Mile at 1:00 pm at the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Please visit both the Camden and Edinburgh Fringe Festival websites for information on tickets and showtimes.