The set is simple, two separate chairs, left and right on a darkened stage; the spotlight falls upon Joe (Eddie Robinson), seated to our right. Joe is a proper Londoner, who knows his city and its people. He speaks at a London pace, nimble and superficial, at the surface, with occasional glints of a kinder underbelly – a tight community that cares for those near to them. Yet as he talks, we come to suspect that he hankers after times gone by.
The spotlight switches to the left; we meet Steph (Josie Charles), who's from up north, has studied hard, and has found a job teaching pre-teens in the capital's East End. Her proud family and friends are far away, but she wants to succeed on her own. The isolation she feels is apparent, but she remains steadfastly optimistic and committed to social change. London's contrast between native and newcomer is well established by both performers.
The second half has an entirely separate plot, but continues the theme of how a big city naturally creates and shapes its own special brand of inhabitants. This time we are transported to Dublin. It's the same simple set: now our man on the right is Dylan (Michael Kiersey), unaccomplished, drifting and unsatisfied with his lot, and seeking a relationship to reorient and anchor his life.
On the left this time is Cara (Niamh Branigan), an old friend of Dylan who could have been an old flame. Again, the couple alternately tell their side of a relationship story, and the contrasts are thrown up – between man and woman, between cities, classes, times past and present.
There are only two scenes but there are four stories all told, as each half is neatly cleaved on stage into "his and hers" viewpoints. The two tales are told through alternating presentation of a real, richly detailed, personal perspective, and Sophia Leuner's script has a wonderful playfulness about it – with each of the four characters prone to act out their descriptions of other people in their life.
The performance was almost flawless, and the script is well-conceived, realistic and down-to-earth; the sense of place is visceral and superbly balanced. Save + Quit is the perfect choice if you fancy, within the space of an hour, peeping into lives lived in two distinct and distinctive cities.