Review: One

3*
HOME, Manchester
This production has now closed.

Nasi is on a ladder. He’s not coming down any time soon.

Taking as its point of departure the polarisation of politics today, One begins amid the ruins of unresolved conflict and looks at the walls we build to protect the difference between what we say and who we really are

One was a really interesting piece of theatre that was comic, stressful and strange. Unexpectedly, that combination of elements worked. It was beautiful, but also made me feel frustrated. Even a few days later I can’t quite articulate exactly how I feel about the whole thing.

The piece begins with Bert trying to persuade Nasi to get down from a ladder and uses audience interaction in order to support this mission. It’s funny and engaging – though as the piece developed I started to find the audience participation fell a bit flat and felt forced at times.

The beginning and end of the play were particularly strong and were both engaging and emotionally striking with a strong balance between the action of the piece and the interaction with the audience. However, the middle of the piece felt erratic at times and made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I began to feel frustrated with both Bert and Nasi and wasn’t sure if that was intentional.

As a whole One is really funny. I enjoyed the contradiction between the men: Bert is loud, brash and extraverted. Nasi was quiet, reflective and thoughtful. I felt as though Nasi was very much reflective of my own emotions watching the piece and the combination made for a duo that reminded me of an old-fashioned comedy team like Laurel and Hardy. I really enjoyed that dynamic and the modern take on it.

There were some beautiful moments, and when Bert and Nasi came together their relationship really captured my attention. It’s unique seeing a relationship that’s so emotionally driven between two men – their familiarity with one another, the comfort they take in holding each other, it’s something that we don’t often see. An unexpected emotional vulnerability. The piece was endearing, even when they were at conflict with one another both Bert and Nasi were likeable.

One is a piece keeps you thinking and interpreting even after it’s over, there’s so much you can glean and understand from the act of Nasi refusing to come down from his ladder, from the polarised relationship between the two, of the way they came together. As a whole I found the piece stressful and angry and emotional, but also strangely peaceful and comforting. It was an odd combination of emotions.

A funny but poignant piece with an endearing dynamic that leaves you thinking.

© M. Holland 2019

This production has now closed, for info on future productions visit Bertrand and Nasi’s website.

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