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Review of 2-Faces at Barons Court Theatre

A voiceover in an early scene just about stops this show from being scene after scene of duologue after duologue. There were moments when I wondered if this play would really be better suited as a movie comedy – one scene starts in the middle of a heist, but the audience only knows this because there’s a stage projection telling us so. Some of the scenes aren’t a second longer than they need to be: marks for being economical. But with so much to do before the following scene, both in terms of costume and set changes, the show ends up with a stop-start feeling overall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it allows the audience to proverbially come up for air, which is more than can be said for some shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

2-Faces - Credit Daniel Welch.
2-Faces – Credit Daniel Welch.

It’s a busy show, but not one that embraces busyness for the sake of it, and the plot unfolds in forward chronological order, removing a large element of potential confusion that might have crept in had the play plumped for time-hopping. Taking on a variety of characters (eight, apparently), Jasmine Dorothy Haefner and Hassan Hope switch relatively seamlessly between art thieves, Interpol agents (if that is indeed what they are), and associates of both camps.

Despite being set in Dalston, Scotland Yard, and one or two locations where the art heists take place, a couple of elements in the show give away its American origins. The first is the selective use of Cockney rhyming slang: in Blighty, it’s ‘back garden’ or just ‘garden’ rather than ‘backyard’. Here, ‘backyard’ apparently translates as – wait for it – ‘security guard’. Second, at the risk of being uncouth, is the varying quality of British accents, or more specifically, London ones. Occasionally, attempts at the Cockney accent sound like Eliza Doolittle in reverse (that is, someone from outside the East End of London trying to sound as though they’re born and bred there), and there was a point at which I thought of Stewie Griffin in the animated television comedy series Family Guy.

That said, this does add to the list of humorous aspects of the production, which include the perhaps inevitable errors Sara and Kofi, the scheming heistists (which isn’t a word, according to Microsoft Word, on which this review was drafted, but I’ll use it anyway) make along the way, and the reactions various characters have to pivotal moments in the storyline. Not the easiest of plots to follow – a deliberate stylistic choice, I think, to keep the audience in a state of suspense – the show is consistently engaging, with the lines between truth and deception blurry to begin with and utterly erased by the end.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Two Interpol agents investigate a series of international art thefts… while simultaneously committing the crimes.

In this mad-cap comedy, two Interpol agents investigate a series of international art thefts while simultaneously committing the crimes and, guised from the world on two fronts, navigate subterfuge in a family forged after fleeing from foster care. 2-Faces will preview at Baron’s Court Theatre before moving to Greenside @ Infirmary Street for a full run at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Cast: Hassan Hope and Jasmine Dorothy Haefner
Directed by: Jesse R. Tendler
Written by: Jasmine Dorothy Haefner

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