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The stage is set as Jermyn Street Theatre welcomes its first post-lockdown performance. A single bed in one corner, a stove in the other and all sorts of clutter spread out across the stage invite us as we enter the auditorium. It looks inviting, almost as if we are getting a peek into someone’s homely one-bedroom flat.
It seems to be a day like any other. It has just stopped raining and flatmates Banza (Michael Fatogun) and Lagbaja (Daon Broni) engage in conversation. Manoeuvring around each other in the lively space they find themselves talking about all sorts of mundane topics – teachers, relationships, family, god and of course, farts. They deck the table and remove the plates, they take the laundry off the washing line and hang it back up, moving back and forth. And we quickly realise that something is off with the chatty and welcoming atmosphere.
Two Horsemen never really lets you put your fingers on what is not going right. The Caryll Churchill-esque piece written by Biyi Bandele and directed by Ebenezer Bamgboy leaves you wondering as to where and why we join Banza and Lagbaja. Is it an alternate reality, the afterlife, judgement day? That is open to interpretation. Supporting the apocalyptic atmosphere is the light and sound design. Almost acting as the Pavlovian dog, a penetrating telephone ring and triangle pings alert us of changes in the character’s reality.
Banza and Lagbaja are portrayed by two great actors who embrace the insanity and sanity of the piece wholeheartedly. Their chemistry and humour are contagious and over the course of an hour, we find ourselves attached to them and their unusual stories. Had the piece been performed with a little less conviction it could have easily shifted from being an entertaining performance to off-putting eccentricity.
Two Horsemen manages to hit all the notes in the enthusiastic albeit strange stories told by the two men as they slip back and forth between alter egos and their realities. And at the end – after all the foreshadowing and overshadowing doom – we are left to wonder whether there was a murder, an actual resurrection, or just a great disaster. And what happened to the other two horsemen? Are they also stuck in this repetitive Déjà vu reality that seems to get more and more grave and dangerous over time?
The performance leaves you with a fondness for the two flatmates who seem to be as stuck as can be, and an uncomfortable presentiment that “there’s evil out there”.
Two Horsemen is playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 5 June 2021. For more information and tickets visit Jermyn Street Theatre online.