Directed by: #RolfinNyhus
Written by: #RolfinNyhus
Greasy spoons are embedded in British culture. Although they’re just a cheap and cheerful café to get a plate of chips or a full English from, you can’t think of a greasy spoon café without thinking of the spam sketch from Monty Python. Writer and director Rolfin Nyhus continues the greasy spoon’s legacy in comedy with his short, Two Down.
The café in question is quiet and tinted in a faint beige colour. Posters dot the walls showcasing the café’s menu for budget prices. Yet, apart from one regular customer and the chef, there’s no one in. Derek (Richard Stephenson Winter) and Diggsy (Chris Anderson) muse over their identical crosswords with Diggsy querying over the clue “five across, four – two: eastern martial art”, and while they collectively decide that it has to be kung-fu, a builder, wryly named Tae Kwon Joe (Ryan Laccohee), wanders in, and comic banter ensues.
Nyhus fundamentally understands our expectations. Crosswords tend to be associated with the educated and the middle-classes, so it’s refreshing and humous to see Diggsy and Derek filling in the crossword, banter at the ready as they go. It’s this inversion of expectations that is Two Down’s bread and butter. Tae Kwon Joe doesn’t look like the sort of guy to have an intimate knowledge of martial arts. Still, he reels off several different forms of martial arts showing off his vast amount of trivia, prompting giggles from the viewer. The only character where Nyhus fails to really get to grips with is Ms Mangetout (Melanie Jane Spence) whose order – a Mediterranean platter - and her classical literature reading habits aren’t even remarked on, even though they are visually funny within the setting of the greasy spoon café. Unfortunately, she’s wasted in her role as Diggsy’s attractive distraction and doesn’t even offer an answer to a clue.
From the Hawaiian opening title music and the stark imagery, Two Down cleverly clashes the style of the British classical realist drama – think of any Ken Loach - with the wit and the weirdness of a Python sketch. Those beige walls shouldn’t be as comforting as they are. Rather than a fatal disconnect, this combination works as well as fish and chips.
Nyhus creates warm characters and witty situations which persuade you to settle in, order a mug of tea and try and guess a crossword clue. Two Down is filled with sparkling wit and light-hearted scenarios centring on kung fu and salt beef. Akin to Black Books, with far less crotchety characters, Two Down is a treat. I’ll have a full English, please.