The stage at Hampstead Theatre is part set, backstage equipment and lighting rigs. Zubin Varla's Felice is trying to prep the area for a performance, after which he practices a few lines from a play he's writing, delivering them to a camera on the stage, the image projected onto the back wall.
It is one of the ways high tech equipment is used in The Two Character Play - one of the later works by Tennessee Williams. It plants it firmly in two different times and is perhaps a cheeky nod to digital theatre during lockdown.
Felice is an actor as well as a writer, but the company he is touring with has upped and left him and his actor sister Claire (Kate O'Flynn). The note they leave declares that the two are insane.
Even their manager has abandoned them.
Claire arrives all skittish and wants to cancel the evening's performance but Felice insists they do The Two Character Play instead. Claire agrees, but only if she can make cuts as they go, something she will signal by playing a C-sharp on the piano.
They warn each other they might dry and have to improvise, but 'the show must go on'.
And so, the play within the play begins. Claire frustrates Felice with her random cuts, and Felice has to run 'off-stage' to change cassette tapes with the music.