Fringe 2013: 2 Across review

The Leduc Drama Society’s production of 2 Across is a humble and believable romantic comedy that feels like an experience thousands of people have every day.

Two people that wouldn’t typically enter conversation with each other are on their way back from an airport in San Francisco riding in an empty train car, and the only thread tying them together is their New York Times crossword. It’s a simple scenario that feels grounded in reality, but strong writing and an admiral performance by actors Marlene Schoonmaker and Peter Dickhout breath life into a world that could easily have turned out mundane.

I found both middle-aged characters in 2 Across likable for different reasons. Dickhout’s character (both of the transit riders remain nameless throughout most of the play) is easy going and friendly, while Schoonmaker’s is colder and less open to idle chit chat. The way the two personalities meet in the middle creates a tension that’s fun to watch, and their tendencies show through in their crossword solving methods as well.

The man considers himself a novice and rarely finishes, while the woman cross checks her completed puzzles religiously each day. The back and forth between the two changes throughout the play and they explore various crossword-puzzle metaphors that examine why people act the way they do in life.

I’m glad that there exist a space for a good play of this ilk too

The exchanges felt natural and hyper-realistic. The acting performance wasn’t quite good enough to fully immerse me in the onstage train car, but it was close. It felt like watching a real conversation through a security camera rather than a scripted play in a theatre.

The crossword-centric 2 Across won’t have you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes, but sometimes that’s what you’re looking for in a fringe play. It’s an excerpt of an encounter that could happen on any passenger railcar on the continent. And in a festival filled with fantastical improv and bizarre freak shows, I’m glad that there exist a space for a good play of this ilk too.

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