The Year and Two of Us Back Here
When people see a play, watch a TV show or play a game, their goal is usually to take a break from real life. However, there are some plays that offer a fictional representation of real life, which is a different but equally valuable form of relief.
Of all the plays that deal with this subject, The Year and Two of US Back Here is easily the most real production I have seen since I started doing reviews. Although the production portrays itself as dealing with mundane topics, it is impressively deep and complex.
The plot is essentially a year in the lives of two employees at a hat shop in Hamilton: Isaac, the 16-year-old new employee, and Rain, the 28-year-old assistant manager. The former is a cynical, socially-awkward introvert, and the latter is a cheerful long-time employee who will casually admit how little she cares about her job.
The only other person working there is their demanding yet perpetually-unseen boss Deidre, and the action takes place exclusively in the back room of the store. Each scene occurs on a major holiday, and the passage of time is marked primarily by the changing of decorations. The characters interact regularly with the set, and they keep the audience's interest up by remaining mobile throughout each scene.
This premise starts off simple, but tensions rise as both of their personal issues are gradually brought to the surface. The story proceeds in a compelling and dramatic manner, with excellent use of foreshadowing throughout. The final culmination of everything is intense but ultimately satisfying and cathartic to watch.
Both in regular conversation and in stressful situations, the actors portray an extremely convincing simulation of real people. The characters are developed enough that each one looks like they could give a monologue about their life, and I would gladly pay money to see that.
Real life may operate on a more restricted set of rules than fantasy, but works that attempt to emulate it are no less interesting or valuable. They allow people to view something that they can relate to, and use the medium of fiction as a means to confront things that trouble them in reality. Wherever you are in your life right now, you won't want to miss this show.
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