Everyone has their favourite musical age. For me, as a child of the sixties and being a bit of a late starter, popular music reached its zenith in 1984 and has been going downhill ever since. For the newer generation then the nineties were where the music happened and, if you fancy learning about love, girl power and the music of the nineties then I would heartily recommend you get yourself along to the King’s Head Theatre and see 2 Becomes 1
Jess (Natasha Granger) is in her old dressing gown and crying like there is no tomorrow. In fact, for Jess, it feels like there really will be no tomorrow as she has just split from her boyfriend. Luckily, rather like Bridget Jones, Jess has a strong support network round her and after leaving countless supportive messages on her answerphone, the gang decide it’s time to do something about her situation. Jess’ friends make a pretty diverse group. There’s Amanda (Jessica Brady) who over-thinks and over-plans her life, Charlie (Eliza Hewitt-Jones) who, if you ran her name through a thesaurus would come out as ‘sexually rampant’. And finally, there is Molly (Kerrie Thomason) either the weirdest of the group or the most astute. After consulting the bible of relationship advice “Cosmo” the girls decide that what Jess really really needs to get over her heartbreak is a night out speed-dating. Whilst initially sceptical, Jess agrees and the four in-control ladies hit the town together.
Okay, first things first. With a title of 2 Becomes 1 and a lot of talk of ‘girl power’ I had the horrible suspicion that this was going to be a jukebox musical of Spice Girls hits and man bashing. I was wrong. Despite the late start – 7pm was the start time, not the time you go to the bar to get a drink before strolling in – what I got was a fantastic musical journey through the best of the 90s pop hits intermingled with a hilarious story of the perils of the speed dating world. The show started with Jess singing All Saints, “Never Ever” (one of my all-time favourite songs) and went from there. Writers Natasha Granger and Kerrie Thomason have written a superb script where the songs have been picked with care and inserted to highlight the story or develop a character. Two favourite moments for me were a truly amazing a capella rendition of Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” that really showed off the actresses voices and the song – to perfection. The other was Jessica Brady’s rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” which was brilliant not just for the singing but for the scene that led up to it.
If you are hoping for a deep meaning to 2 Becomes 1 then you may be disappointed. There are no magical moments when one of the characters has an epiphany and realises the answer to true love has been staring her in the face if only she recognised it. Just like real life when it comes to relationships, the girls bumble along at the speed dating pretending to be something they aren’t but at the same time remaining true to themselves. For, no matter what ‘Cosmo’, ‘Marie Claire’, ‘Elle’ etc tells them, the girls know that the first person they need to love is themselves and that changing just to please a man is not the way forward. This is especially true going by the recorded comments of men looking for love that are played during some of the scene breaks. I was sat squirming listening to these men prattle on about their perfect woman.
All four actors excelled in their roles and the characters were very true to life. I am ashamed to say I thought that Jessica Bradley’s Amanda was a little too close to my own personality for comfort at times, though her life plan was better than mine. Of the four, assuming I dated ladies it would have to be Molly. I couldn’t cope with Charlie’s sexual needs and Jess was a tad too clingy, but with Molly, I think life would always be full of surprises. A quick mention for the lighting design of Clancy Flynn which really worked well with the very minimalist set – four very shiny portable boxes with unexpected items hidden in them – and the show was directed beautifully.
So, my final thoughts. I can honestly say that it has been a long time since a show finished and I was crying with laughter but 2 Becomes 1 did that. This is a fast show – the roughly one-hour running time passes so fast – that blends some amazing music seamlessly into a well-written and acted story. I still believe the 1980s was best but the 1990s now runs a close second, and I’m so glad that my fears turned out to be groundless and give thanks to the wonderful writers, cast and crew of 2 Becomes 1 for giving me such an enjoyable night at the theatre.
Review by Terry Eastham
Comedy pop-musical following four 90s girls embarking on a wild night of speed dating, meeting Mr Wrongs and Mr Rights along the way. A hilarious non-stop journey through infectious pop anthems and ballads. After her recent break-up, Jess is left crying into her Haagen-Dazs, and what better way to unbreak her heart than to meet a man a minute. Relive that 90s love with all your favourite classics from Shania Twain to All Saints and witness speed dating before the takeover of Tinder.
13th to 29th April 2017
King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper St, N1 1QN