Edinburgh Fringe 2022
A journey of self-discovery, One of Two uses quirky humour to look at the significance of human connection particularly between siblings and the effect it can have on our lives. Although personal at its core it questions common misconceptions about impairment/disability in the non-disabled world.
Jack is hiding in the bathroom surrounded by the half packed up life of a twenty-something, waiting for his friend Simon to drive him away. A relationship has gone wrong and he has to leave. He doesn’t do well on his own, he tells us. Is this because he had a built-in bestie from the off, a ‘womb’ mate, his twin sister Bec? Now on his own his Darth Vader Mr Potato Head is tempting him over to the dark side so to distract himself he tell us his life story and how closely it is entwined with his sister– 7 minutes younger and both of them weeks premature. And both, as is quickly discovered, have a different form of Cerebral Palsy – a label which sticks very firmly to them the older they get. Mum, Dad and boisterous older brothers just treat them as the loving and mischievous kids they are and although their primary school isn’t ideal it is the secondary education system fails them, spectacularly so for Bec. Why, asks Jack, were not simple adjustments put in place early on so Bec could thrive and get a higher education like him? This is a universal issue throughout the UK and Hunter uses his and Bec’s lived experience to illustrate the long-term negative impact this has. If this sounds grim, a misery memoir, with ‘disableds’ to feel sorry for it is isn’t; Hunter has a dark sense of humour and Director Robert Softley Gale (from Birds Of Paradise Theatre, Glasgow) has created a tough talking show which never strays into sentimentality.
This is a mixed media show using poetry, projection and a voice over from Bec, plus a mean harmonica mime from Hunter. It is clever to use an office chair on wheels as visual imagery for Bec, a wheelchair user, and a dust sheet in the soon to be abandoned flat doubles as a projector screen to display family photos and videos past and present. Audio description is at times integrated into the performance and captions are present throughout. This is great for access, and maybe if the show tours these could be redone so they don’t become spoilers for punchlines!
One of Two is a bit bumpy in places and maybe the ‘now’ story and the ‘then’ story is an over complicated device; the script pulls on more threads that it can get sewn up in an hour of stage time. What is the key story Hunter wants to tell? We never find out why Jack’s adult relationship has collapsed (although it is signaled as integral to the play). Maybe this framing device isn’t needed?
Although sometimes it strays into a lecture on the barriers put in the way of Disabled teenagers (an important topic) overall One of Two is an engaging solo show and highly recommended.