THREE is a play that puts your emotions under attack from the moment you arrive in the theatre.

Whilst for most, the awkward milling about prior to a play is a period of brevity before immersing yourself in a story, this play has the audience immersed from the second you walk through.

Staged at Birkenhead’s Bloom Building, a beautiful space that was hosting a play for the first time, upon entry you found Hannah Harquart already in character as ‘Patch’ patrolling the space, and a PHQ-9 questionnaire left on every seat.

A PHQ-9 questionnaire is an all too welcome sight for those who have struggled with depression and their mental health, and so acted with a variety of purposes.

For those in the room who recognised it, it sets the scene for what at times is an uncomfortably close experience, and for those who have no idea what they were, started a dialogue among groups that will better prepare them for what was to come.

Written by and starring Christie Peto as ‘woman’, ‘Three’ is a play about a woman’s battle with loneliness and her inner psyche. Joined by Harquart’s energetic performance as Patch, the undefined positive inner psyche of ‘Woman’, Peto anchors the play with aplomb, displaying remarkable chemistry between herself and Harquart’s ‘Patch’.

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It takes a remarkable level of quality writing and direction to manage to blend hilarious comedy with heartfelt emotions all in one piece, and the chemistry between the two brings this to life.

The moments of levity, predominantly provided by ‘Patch’ against the more straight man persona of ‘Woman’, are frequent, but all serve the story being told.

Each dramatic moment leads to a bigger laugh in the next comedic one, and each comedic moment leads to an audience member closer to tears the next time ‘Woman’ displays her heart to the audience.

The directing of Sophie McMahon is a standout, fully channelling the top tier acting talents of Harquart and Peto.

Starting out life as a monologue before ‘Patch’ was added, the lack of characters is a strength that is played with flexibly.

Audience interactions takes the place of multiple characters, with the actors forced to improv with what they’re given back. Ranging from the therapist of ‘Woman’ to a co-worker of hers, the decision is masterful.

Whilst audience interaction is often mortifying and uncomfortable, the actors approached this in a careful and considered way, where they were often the butt of the joke – not the audience member forced to interact.

As well as this, it allowed the world to feel lived in and real, often an issue with plays featuring limited casts, whilst still emphasising the loneliness of our protagonist.

The last northern leg of ‘Three’s’ tour, the performance at Bloom Building was an incredible success. Harquart was charismatic, funny, and brought heartfelt emotion, and Peto brought a tenderness and care to the role that had you wanting to cheer at her success and sob at her setbacks.

‘Three’ above all else feels focused on the loneliness and exhaustion of living in the modern world. Few creative teams could take a concept so depressing and dour, and manage to do it dramatic justice, but also have an audience laughing hysterically for the duration.

The combination of Harquart, Peto, and McMahon, however, achieved this beautifully, and are clear up-and-comers to watch out for. ‘Three’ was a delight: funny, sweet, and insightful in equal measure.