PUBS have faced a lot of changes over the last 30 years (think mass closures and the smoking ban), but some things remain timeless - most notably the people.

It might have been written in 1989, but the characters of Jim Cartwright's Two are as relatable as ever.

There are 14 in total, the owners and clientele of a typical North East pub (the set wonderfully designed by Hannah Sibai).

All are played by just two actors, Jess Johnson and Christopher Price, with a quick jacket or jumper change signalling the arrival of a new person.

Some are loveable, others are most certainly not, but all are magnificently portrayed by Johnson and Price. They are instantly distinct and distinguished, so much so that the viewer soon forgets that these are just two people (the costumes of Sibai help define the differences).

If reduced to one word this is a play about relationships, between the characters and the place they congregate.

Some are very sweet, others utterly unpleasant, but all are totally human.

The only recurring characters are the landlord and landlady, a bickering pair trapped in a loveless marriage.

At first it seems they have simply grown apart, wearied by years of pulling pints and counting profits, but a great tragedy alluded to in the first half is deeply explored in the second.

They are both unified and divided by it and the final scenes must be among the most powerful and compelling seen on the Gala stage.

Anyone who has found themselves people-watching, wondering who those around them are and how they came to be, will find this a riveting watch.

It's up there with a night at the pub.

Two, directed by Tom Wright, is on at Durham’s Gala Theatre until Saturday, October 6. Performances each night are at 7.30pm, there is also a 2.30pm showing on Saturday. Tickets cost £15 and £13 concessions.

Duncan Leatherdale