All during Jerry Mayer’s new light romantic comedy 2 Across, I wanted Broadway baby Andrea McArdle (Broadway’s original Annie), to break out into “Crossword Puzzle,” from Starting Here Starting Now. Seeming much more like a sitcom than a play, when reading Mr. Mayer’s bio, you find out he wrote such shows as “M*A*S*H,” “All in the Family” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” among others. Ah suddenly this play makes sense.
Taking place at 4:30 a.m. on the BART train from San Francisco International Airport on its way to Bay Point, Janet (McArdle), is verbally brought into play by Josh (Kip Gilman). Janet a control freak is using the crossword puzzle to ease her troubled mind. Josh who is brash and talkative, has the same puzzle, but unlike Janet this is not life or death for him. When he tries to cheat by glancing at her puzzle, Janet pegs him for the Neanderthal he is. Both are middle aged and married, but the similarities stop there. He’s Jewish, she’s not. She’s responsible, he’s not. She finishes things, he doesn’t. Janet a psychologist won’t even eat the sandwich Josh offers her, because she follows the rules and does not break them, despite being starving. Josh, a former actor, is unemployed after leaving is father’s button company. He does how has an interview doing PR for Banana Republic. Janet offers to help him get that job by finishing the aforementioned crossword puzzle. In the end the two disclose personal secrets and fall in like, if not love.
I had a hard time getting into this play, because if I had been Janet, I would have stopped the conversation so early on, the romance would have never happened.
Ms. McArdle and Mr Gilman play well together and were charming. We believe the chemistry between them.
I found the dialogue easy and free flowing, but the plot was predictable and too saccharine sweet for me.
Evelyn Rudie, directs this play simply. Set designer Scott Heineman deserves kudos for his replicated of a BART car.
The reason to see 2 Across, is not the play, but the after show of “It Had to Be You.” Ms. McArdle proves to the audience why she was given a Drama Desk and Outer Critic Award, was nominated for a Tony and won a Theatre World Award. Welcome back Andrea, it so nice to have you back where you belong.
2 Across: St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th St. until January 31