Jan. 17, 2013 - Issue #900: The ongoing musical evolution of Hannah Georgas
"I believe your subconscious brain works on little problems without you even knowing it—so you see things with a fresh perspective," he says, in describing his return to 2 Across, a show that was cancelled just days before its run in May 2011 after one of the actors suffered a back injury.
Arnold had always intended to remount the show sometime in the future. "The timing is good now," he says. "It's a really sweet comedy, kind of a romantic comedy, so it's sort of an early Valentine's play."
Set in contemporary San Francisco, 2 Across depicts the meeting of a man and woman on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train ride from the airport to East Bay. The 90-minute commute occurs in real time on stage as the pair connects over The New York Times crossword puzzle.
"The crossword is kind of the motif that runs through the play," Arnold states. "It's a neat metaphor for how you approach life: do you struggle and finish the crossword or do you give up when it gets hard?"
The two characters are classic opposites: she's a straitlaced, uptight businesswoman who brings an arsenal of reference books to finish the crossword, while he's a charming, freewheeling spirit that Arnold likens to The Big Lebowski's "Dude" character. The playwright, Jerry Mayer, wrote for several television sitcoms like MASH and The Bob Newhart Show, and Arnold notes that this influence is felt in the play's snappy pace and witty banter. But Arnold notes that it's also richer than a sitcom, which is why Mayer made the switch to playwriting. "There isn't that demand to have a zinger every five seconds," Arnold says.
This second mounting also revealed a development in Arnold's personal esthetic: while he had planned a fairly elaborate set for the 2011 production, this time around the staging and props are very pared-back, with most of the setting delivered through a soundscape designed by Paul Morgan Donald.
"The idea is that we let the audience do the imaginative work," Arnold adds. "That's part of the beauty of theatre, compared to movies and TV, that it can engage the audience's imagination that way. It's sort of what theatre has, in the great battle."
Fri, Jan 18 – Sun, Jan 27 (8 pm)
Directed by Julien Arnold
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, $13 – $15
Reserve tickets by calling 780.437.2891 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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