Plates were smashed in Palmyra; power games played in Eurohouse. In their past shows Bert was charming but oleaginous, playing the audience like a fiddle and prone to cold-eyed fury if things didn’t go his way, while Nasi was always more reserved, the definition of long-suffering: a hangdog with a quietly steely backbone.
In One, Nasi starts off at the top of a ladder while Bert implores him to come down. “No,” Nasi replies, resolute. “This,” he says, gesturing to the sizeable gap between them, “works for me.” Who can blame him?
Eventually he come down and a warped peace treaty ensues. It’s all desperate and unbearable, appalling and agonisingly funny. Nasi gives an inch, Bert takes a mile. Then Nasi retracts the inch but Bert maintains the mile. The dialogue is clipped, repetitive and seething.
The duo crawl into each other’s laps, moon each other, mock each other’s accents, simultaneously searching for the common ground between them and rearing away from it.
This show is structurally looser than Eurohouse and Palmyra – stretching out the process and limits of cooperation and compromise like putty, rarely succumbing to easy solutions. Louise Stephens’ dramaturgy works quiet magic, making every torturous beat feel entirely logical.
If the ending – chosen by the audience – seems unsatisfying, then that’s entirely the point. How can all this trauma and pain be redressed in 65 minutes? It’s a performative enactment of harmony. One can only hope that the real thing comes soon after.