A HAMPSTEAD THEATRE ORIGINAL
THE TWO CHARACTER PLAY
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Sam Yates
Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with an interval
A doctor once told me that we were the bravest people he knew. I said “Why, that’s absurd, my brother and I are terrified of our shadows.” And he said, “Yes, I know, and that’s why I admire your courage so much…"
17 Jul - 28 Aug 2021
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
★★★★ 'Sam Yates' staging uses modern theatrical wizardry to restore the mould-breaking power of Tennessee Williams’ most daring play' Evening Standard
★★★★ 'A profound delight. Funny and absurd.' Independent
★★★★ 'Yates’s fine, intelligent production… celebrates the radical streak in Williams’s work' Financial Times
★★★★ 'Kate O’Flynn and Zubin Varla are mesmerizing' Evening Standard
'Zubin Varla and Kate O’Flynn deliver impressively taut performances' The Times
'Sam Yates’ impressively drilled production milks every drop of theatricality from Rosanna Vize’s design' Daily Mail
'Bracing… clever theatricality and some terrific song and dance numbers.' The Guardian
'A real discovery in a very rare outing of this Tennessee Williams play.' Daily Express
'A heartfelt and haunting celebration of the theatrical. Stunning and profound.' Exeunt Magazine
Early booking is advised. This production has limited seating capacity due to social distancing measures.
Fellow actors, and brother and sister, Felice and Clare have been on tour far too long. Abandoned by the rest of their troupe, all that’s left is each other, an empty stage and an expectant audience. They will have to adapt accordingly and perform the only appropriate work in their repertoire: The Two Character Play…
Tennessee Williams, one of the world’s great dramatists, referred to his innovative psychological thriller, as ‘my most beautiful play since A Streetcar Named Desire, the very heart of my life’. The Two Character Play returns to Hampstead for the first time since receiving its World Premiere here in 1967.
Kate O’Flynn plays Clare. Her theatre credits include an Olivier Award nomination for The Glass Menagerie (West End), Blank (Donmar) and A Taste of Honey (National Theatre).
Zubin Varla plays Felice. His theatre credits include an Olivier Award nomination for Fun Home (Young Vic), Equus (West End) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe).
Sam Yates makes a highly anticipated return to Hampstead following his Olivier-nominated production, The Phlebotomist. His West End credits include Glengarry Glen Ross starring Christian Slater and The Starry Messenger starring Matthew Broderick.
The Two Character Play is presented by special arrangement with The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.
Our promise to you
In the event of The Two Character Play being postponed, you can choose between a full refund or credit to be used for any show at Hampstead.
Regardless of changes to government advice on social distancing, The Two Character Play will remain as originally sold, with no seating capacity increase and social distancing measures in place.
Hampstead Theatre is delighted to open The Two Character Play following Government advice. As always, our audience, company and staff are our top priority. For more information about how we’re keeping you safe, please click here.
We present entertaining and original theatre, and we want you to have the best experience possible. We understand that, as part of this, some audience members may appreciate additional guidance on the content of our plays. Click here for more information.
'Tennessee Williams’s experimental late-career work, which premiered at this very theatre in 1967, is revived in ultra meta-textual production'
'The production itself is a delight: strange and profound.'
'Kate O’Flynn plays Clare; Zubin Varla is her brother Felice. They are the sole remaining members of a theatre troupe, whose entire cast and crew have abandoned them along with a note: “Your sister and you are insane.” Clare – who turned up to the theatre drunk and skittish, flinching at her own shadow – wants to cancel the performance. Felice insists that the show must go on. “Some necessary things are impossible,” says Clare. “And some impossible things are necessary,” says Felice. “We are performing tonight.”'
'The play within a play is meandering and hard to follow – especially since Clare is only half-committed, making cuts wherever she pleases, indicating those cuts to Felice by playing a C# on the piano. It’s funny and absurd at first, especially in contrast to Felice’s over-zealous enthusiasm, as he simpers, over-acts, and scuttles back and forth from the stage to the sound desk in a frenzy.'
'it was once described by the playwright as “my most beautiful play since Streetcar, the very heart of my life”. This production is empathetic and eccentric enough to do it justice.'
Alexandra Pollard, 27 July, 2021
'Kate O’Flynn and Zubin Varla give mesmerising performances in Sam Yates’ finely judged production'
'The Two Character Play sees [Tennessee Williams] at his most daring. Director Sam Yates’ staging brings it back to Hampstead Theatre, where it first premiered in 1967, and uses modern theatrical wizardry to restore all its mould-breaking power.'
'It’s set in a chilly, dream-like theatre where a brother and a sister are putting on a play - but the rest of the cast have deserted them, the script isn’t finished, and they’re rapidly parting ways with reality after their parents’ deaths. Kate O’Flynn and Zubin Varla are mesmerising to watch as these siblings, singing melancholy little songs or blowing bubbles as they desperately try to find a fitting conclusion to their endless imprisoning childhood.'
'Onstage video cameras capture all of O’Flynn’s wonderfully heightened gestures and Varla’s wry impatience in huge projections that fill the stage’s back wall. And the pair deliver masterful shifts in accent and mood, slipping out of their languid Southern drawls to deliver wry Estuary-accented asides to each other.'
'Yates’ production has been long delayed by the pandemic but it feels like he never stopped thinking about this fascinating play, either. He knows just when to jolt an audience and when to let us luxuriate in the odd, nostalgic world of Williams’ past.'
Alice Saville, 27 July, 2021
'It’s a bold, challenging piece, suffused in the playwright’s guilt about his sister... What’s remarkable about it is the way it manages to convey the terror of confinement and the confusion of paranoia, while at the same time keeping an analytical distance. In the melodramatic play-within-a-play Williams seems almost to parody himself, but by framing it with tense exchanges between the acting couple, the writer opens out the way he fought with himself and his work.
Yates’s fine, intelligent production embraces that vocabulary: here the action plays out on a half-dressed stage (design by Rosanna Vize), the actors push the scenery around, manage the sound effects and sometimes address the onstage cameras so their faces are magnified on the upstage wall. It’s a staging that celebrates the radical streak in Williams’s work and meets its double focus: we see the play, we see the pain that goes into the play, we see the tormented ambivalence of the artist towards both his creation and its source.
O’Flynn and Varla are excellent: she’s defiant, volatile and painfully vulnerable; he’s driven, clenched, enraged by his sister but equally protective towards her. By the end, it’s clear neither of them can leave: they are locked into the theatre, into their relationship with each other and into the play they must keep performing... it’s a powerful articulation of loneliness and the gnawing terror of madness.'
Sarah Hemming, 30 July, 2021
MALIK NASHAD SHARPE
ASSOCIATE MOVEMENT DIRECTOR
STUART BURT CDG
Alice Saville awards Tennessee Williams's 'The Two Character Play' four stars.
Claire Allfree of The Telegraph investigates the relationship between Tennessee Williams family history and his innovative thriller The Two Character Play
Ham and High interviews Sam Yates, director of Tennessee Williams' The Two Character Play, ahead of its opening on our Main Stage.
Delve into the making of The Two Character Play with our short film featuring the cast and creative team – from direction, sound and lighting to design, movement and videography.
Ahead of Tennessee Williams' The Two Character Play opening on the Main Stage from 17 July, the team at Hampstead have collected their favourite quotes from one the world's greatest dramatists:
Sam Yates, director of Tenneessee Williams' The Two Character Play, spoke to The Stage about giving the play the airing it deserves at the very venue at which it premiered in 1967.
Kate O'Flynn and Zubin Varla will star in this new production of Tennessee Williams' play, which received its World Premiere at Hampstead in 1967, directed by Sam Yates (The Phlebotomist).
Hampstead Theatre announces Tennessee Williams' The Two Character Play, directed by Sam Yates, and the World Premiere of Tom Wells' Big Big Sky, directed by the theatre's new Associate Director Tessa Walker
Previews, Mondays and matinees
Full price: £18/£27/£30
Under 30s/Students: £10/15
Seniors* (matinees only): £20/£25
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Tuesday – Saturday evenings
Full price: £25/£32/£37
Under 30s/Students: £10/£15
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
All prices are subject to change. Book early for the best price.