The Twins by Sarah Butler, Ian Darling and Greg Fleet.
Directed by Terry Serio and Sarah Butler. Produced by Mary Macrae. Shark Island Institute and The Artslab Kangaroo Valley. Courtyard Studio. Canberra Theatre Centre. May 3 – 6 2021
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
| Ian Darling and Greg Fleet in THE TWINS
“We are twins not of the body but of the soul” comedian, actor and writer Greg Fleet tells documentary film maker and philanthropist Ian Darling. It is what makes The Twins such an absorbing and compelling tale of two old friends who have come together after forty years to relive the joy of their roles as the twins in Geelong Grammar School’s production of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. The Twins is so much more than Darling’s attempt to create a two person performance of Shakespeare’s comedy. The actors’ autobiographical exploration becomes a ritual of revelation. The mirror image of life’s trajectory reveals the human truths of each man’s experience. What emerges is a profound conversation of loss and regret, of failure and success, of truth and lies, of friendship and love. The universality of the human condition reverberates in this simple, yet portent laden play by Sarah Butler, Ian Darling and Greg Fleet, directed by Butler and Terry Serio.
In a play compiled of personal anecdote, interspersed with Shakespearian excerpts and snatches of Seventies songs, Fleet and Darling recount their struggles with heartfelt authenticity. Darling confronts his fear of auditioning for the National Institute of Dramatic Art and his jealousy of Fleet who was successful, but then was expelled at the end of his first year. As a result Darling did his father’s bidding and became a stockbroker while Fleet turned to heroin. Twinned in frustration, Fleet and Darling recount their eventual emergence to pursue their dream, although one senses Fleet’s pain at being deserted by his father and living the life of a lying addict. The fragility is palpable and although a searing memoir and a successful career have led him to a path of redemption the performance reveals a truth that is a core utterance of the play, that belief and trust lie at the heart of true friendship. The Twins is a journey of discovery of those two fundamental virtues in each man’s life.
Honesty and universal truths avoid any indulgence in a performance that is tightly directed, honestly written and an effectively simple portrayal of life’s complexity. From the opening admission of “I am a man” as each man paces the stage, declaring gender, colour and identity the audience is reminded of the words of Peter Brook , “A man walks across the empty space whilst someone else is watching him and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged” This totally engaging confessional leaves us with the awareness that we are all twins, mirroring the pain, the joy, the need and the fulfilment, the success and the failure of life’s journey. In our search for identity exists the question that every person, twin or otherwise will face, “Who am I”
Though still on the journey, it becomes clear that by the end of this funny, sad and thought-provoking journey, Darling and Fleet have travelled a long way towards the answer to the question while holding the mirror up to our nature so that we may observe our true twin in the glass.