It’s just after 4am and two people meet on the San Francisco BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The desire to sit in a “lucky seat,” and a shared interest in completing the “sadistic Saturday” New York Times crossword, lead to a flirtatious conversation between this modern ‘odd couple.’ In an intimate production of this funny, witty and entertaining script, the audience are fellow passengers during the 80 minute trip. Nathan Schulz Presents (NSP) and the Brisbane Tramway Museum have produced a show that demonstrates the best aspects of the Anywhere Theatre Festival—an annual theatrical celebration which brings nooks and crannies from across Brisbane (and beyond) to life.  We may all be at the Ferny Grove Tramway Museum, sitting on a real Brisbane tram, but we are soon enthralled in the ‘will they won’t they’ interplay between Candice Dittmann (She: ‘Rita’/Janet) and Nathan Schulz (He: ‘Tom’/Josh). 

‘She’ is the organised, sensible, Catholic psychologist—who sees crosswords as “a metaphor for life – those who finish, succeed, those who don’t fail.” ‘He’ is about to return to a career in advertising; the Jewish son who has a track record of failing to commit, and who has walked away from a 25 years working in the family button business. At best, She seems him as a “charming free spirit,” initially implying that he is not “mensch“ ('mensch' is a Yiddish compliment, suggesting honour and integrity). He is clearly alarmed that she carries a range of books (including an atlas) to help her complete the crossword, and feels that she needs to reassess her rigid approach to life. It appears that the only points they have in common are an interest in crosswords and being married (to other people). But nothing is quite what it seems.  

 Pictured (L to R): Candice Dittmann (She: ‘Rita’/Janet) and Nathan Schulz (He: ‘Tom’/ Josh). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): Candice Dittmann (She: ‘Rita’/Janet) and Nathan Schulz (He: ‘Tom’/ Josh). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The direction is impeccable (a great use of the space), the ‘off-stage’ Foley work superb (hats off to the hard-working front of house and voice artist!), and the tram is a perfect space for the show (complete with comfortable seats, suitable lighting, excellent acoustics, and movement!).  But the stars of the production are Dittmann and Schulz. The actors create two convincing characters, performing their lines in a highly-believable and natural way. Soon we really are voyeurs, travelling in the carriage, watching two people only lightly resist a growing mutual attraction. Having seen them in this show I will certainly look out for other opportunities to see them perform.

 Pictured (L to R): A crossword clue. Candice Dittmann (She: ‘Rita’/Janet) and Nathan Schulz (He: ‘Tom’/Josh). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): A crossword clue. Candice Dittmann (She: ‘Rita’/Janet) and Nathan Schulz (He: ‘Tom’/Josh). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

There is no gratuitous sex or violence, no earth-shattering world-changing themes; just a charming, flirtatious, witty romantic comedy. Perfect for a first date, an anniversary celebration, or as a Mother’s Day gift. This is what it ‘says on the box’ (“a comedy of romance and crosswords”). The humour has a witty, light, flirtatious touch, but you don’t have to be passionate about crosswords (or worry about being dragged to see a soppy romance) to enjoy this show. The play is charming, funny, and beautifully acted and directed. Oh, and you get to visit the tramway museum and ride on a real Brisbane tram! The only disappointment is that it closes on 12th May.

So cancel any plans for tonight or tomorrow, buy a ticket (or two) and enjoy.

Tickets $25-$30 (why not enter into the spirit of the show and purchase the $30 ‘romance package,’ complete with rose of course) https://anywheretheatre.com/listings/2-across/.  80 minutes.  The show has a mere 4 performances during the Anywhere Festival (tickets still on sale for 11th and 12th May).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the 10th May 2017 (7:30pm) performance.

An Amateur Production By arrangement with ORIGIN Theatrical on behalf of Samuel French Inc.

 

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