Two old school friends, come back together forty years after playing the twins in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, to rework it as a two-hander.
A heart-breaking and hilarious new play about trust, remembering and forgetting to remember, loss, regret, love, pain and glory. Their lives took different paths; they are now reunited, but who is playing who? Are they who they say they are and should any of that matter? And once you’ve let go of your dreams, is there ever really any way back?
It’s about fathers and the shadows they leave, the labels we give to others and ourselves and the burden and guilt these two friends carry as a result. An achingly honest account that sees privilege and heroin joined at the hip.
The Twins is a two-hand, one-act play that runs for ninety minutes. It is the real-life story of a friendship re-ignited. There is a lot of water under that bridge and a lot of other stuff as well. Can you really go back?
The Twins was co-created and co-written by Sarah Butler, Ian Darling and Greg Fleet over three development residencies at Shark Island Institute Kangaroo Valley NSW.
The play premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in February 2021 before touring to Sydney, Kangaroo Valley, Canberra and Melbourne.
We have coined the term ‘theatre verite’ to describe this piece because it is a play, first and foremost, but the characters are real people and are also played by themselves.
The making of this play has been a journey — a long and winding road — and like the story at the heart of the play, it has been forged from shared history, with the joy of making theatre at its core; with many a sweeping turn, strange and unexpected. More >
The Twins began development in the carefree early days of 2018 and was then written over three residencies at Shark Island Institute Kangaroo Valley in NSW: the first in December 2019, as the mighty Currowan Fire slowly burned through southern NSW; and the second in January 2020, just after the bushfires had destroyed forty homes on the other side of the valley. I will never forget the day we three drove through the burnt landscape: it had a lasting impact and made its way into the work.
Within months we turned a corner and met a pandemic, so the third residency, in June 2020 and the first reading for friends, was squeezed in before a hard Victorian lockdown left Fleety in Melbourne and Ian and I in Kangaroo Valley. Subsequent readings and final writing sessions took place over zooms and phones and despite lock downs. Terry came on board to work on voice and acting and standing in for Greg, which enabled me to start playing with composition with two bodies on stage, but it was hard, especially missing Fleety, so far away. This strange covid time, this process, was such a confirmation of the vitalness of live intimacy in theatre and the importance of being in the room when you are making it.
As things eased, and performing the play became likely again, we stole Mary away from her documentary film producing to get us organised and finally, the whole gang got back together in Victoria last December to start rehearsals proper. We couldn’t predict what was going to happen next with border closures, so we all just kept going… moving plans and states as things changed and hoping we would get to Adelaide. And we did… mostly.
Sadly, I didn’t quite make it, compelled to step back from directing the play when my daughter became sick at Christmas, but brilliantly, Terry was able to step into the breach and lead The Twins home, finishing rehearsals in greater Sydney, and then in regional NSW when COVID restrictions again played their part.
When it is such a surprising and wonderful trip, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get to the destination! This creative adventure with these two marvellous men has been extraordinary. The writing, designing and conceptualising of this work; the wrangling of the memories and stories of these two old friends into a play; the layering in of Shakespearean themes and favourite songs; the creation of a tale about life’s wheel of fortune, where it lands you and how it defines you, was a joy and an honour to be part of.
— Sarah Butler
In late November I knew I was travelling to Victoria to continue working as acting coach and also provide an extra ‘pair of eyes‘ for The Twins. More >
I knew the venue would be basically a black box and the set a simple rehearsal setting with one table and a few chairs. My instincts told me to trust the words of the play and to imbue the actors (Greg Fleet and Ian Darling) with the notion that they were simply the delivery device. To allow them to find the power in the words and not think about flicking on the ‘acting’ switch. In other words to ‘keep it simple and try to avoid ‘acting’! I salute them both for their efforts both in not only understanding that difficult concept but in their having faith in me and believing me when I’d push them relentlessly into truth and ordinariness.
The play suits my sensibilities well, as it deals with topics that have long fascinated me and are often taboo areas for discussion between many men. Friendship, redemption, loss and regret are aspects of life which touch us all. The play also deals with the idea that we are all flawed human beings and need to look into one another’s souls before we pass judgement. This delving into our psyches has been hard and at times hilarious.
We have had several intense periods of rehearsal in which to wrestle and refine the play, the Quarantine Station in Portsea when we could rehearse with Greg in Victoria, and several weeks at Shark Island Institute in Kangaroo Valley when Regional NSW was the place we could cross the border from into South Australia. Alarmingly Ian and Greg just made it across the Victorian border before it closed again after a 24hr visit to family on the way here! We have had many a close call on borders during the writing and rehearsal of The Twins and are delighted to be in Adelaide and with you all for Fringe!
Exceptional excesses in the pursuit of truth, love and humanity – we came up with the moniker: Theatre Vérité — which also sits well with our tag line — Truer than fiction!
Thanks must also go to the Shark Island team especially Sarah Butler (co-director and writer) and Mary Macrae (producer) but also Ian Darling and Greg Fleet (actors and co-writers), Min Darling for our spiritual and mental resilience… the dogs Ralph and Sasha and of course without Ian Darling’s faith in us all… None of this would be happening.
— Terry Serio
Acknowledgement of Country
The cast and crew of The Twins acknowledge the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, the Traditional Owners of the Country on which we play. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands where this play was created: the Gadigal people (Sydney); the Wodi Wodi people (Kangaroo Valley), and the Bunurong people (Mornington Peninsula Victoria). We pay our respects to all First Nations Peoples and their cultures, and to Elders both past and present, and honour their connection to land, water and community.
Happy Man by Sunnyboys
Everything’s On Fire by Hunters & Collectors
Cattle And Cane by The Go-Betweens
Boys In Town by Divinyls
The Unguarded Moment by The Church
Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again by The Angels
April Sun in Cuba by Dragon
Dumb Things by Paul Kelly
The Real Thing by Russell Morris
What’s My Scene by Hoodoo Gurus
Into My Arms by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Living in the 70’s by Skyhooks
Beautiful People by Australian Crawl
Going about my father’s business by Paul Kelly
Holden St Theatres ADELAIDE FRINGE SA
Feb 16–Mar 21
Seymour Centre SYDNEY NSW
Mar 30–Apr 17
Upper River Hall KANGAROO VALLEY NSW
Apr 29–May 1
Canberra Theatre Centre CANBERRA ACT
May 3–May 6
Gasworks Theatre MELBOURNE VIC
May 11–May 15
Geelong Grammar School CORIO VIC