ON the surface this is a hilarious two-hander – two mates discuss life, death, the afterlife and everything in-between in an Irish pub.

But Two Pints is far more than that, exploring what’s behind the easy banter, in particular the themes of friendship and death. The two unnamed mates know each other intimately, and discuss their everyday lives as well as their, hopes, desires (especially Nigella Lawson) and disappointments.

“Most of what men talk about is drivel – we talk drivel”

In particular they talk of the impending death of the father of one of the friends. The father’s illness gives the piece a narrative thread which helps to pull together conversations which sometimes seem quite random and unrelated.

The setting is a bar – THE bar upstairs in The Peacock – which is clearly a sanctuary for our world-weary pair. Indeed the bar is described as a version of Heaven in a rambling account of how they see the afterlife. As you’d expect from a writer of Roddy Doyle’s quality, the dialogue is sharp, insightful, very funny and sometimes very moving. The play has two intervals, with Liam Carney and Philip Judge ‘on stage’ (or at the bar) for almost two hours.

The fact that two men talking can entertain an enthralled audience for so long is testament to the brilliant dialogue and perfect performances. There are some superb one-liners and some hilarious exchanges around subjects such as vegetarianism, car parks, celebrities and dead German footballers.

The relationship between the two men feels genuine and natural, in turn supportive and sarcastic, but always warm and knowing. It’s the sort of relationship you’d like to think you have with your own friends.

And it’s the sort of close relationship in which you can talk about anything – and these two friends do.

“Most of what men talk about is drivel – we talk drivel” says one at one point.

It might be drivel, but it provides a superb night of intelligent, thoughtful entertainment that was extremely well received by a packed Peacock audience.

Two Pints is an An Abbey Theatre Production presented by Live Theatre in association with Sunderland Culture. It is on at The Peacock until this Friday and tickets are available from Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232 or online at www.live.org.uk

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