2 Across

A comedy of Crosswords and Romance

They’re alone in the car, both are married and both are doing the New York Times crossword.

She’s an organized, sensible, psychologist, He’s a free spirited, unemployed ad exec.

She’s a crossword pro and he always quits.

When he tosses his puzzle away, she snaps “Crosswords are a metaphor for life – those who finish, succeed, those who don’t, fail” so now he vows to finish.

Two opposites in an enclosed space, attacking each other’s values but also being swayed and intrigued by them. They each have serious life problems that the other helps them solve.

Their trip is filled with unpredictable but believable surprises, even a passionate embrace or two, and as the train ride ends, it’s obvious each of them has been changed for the better

But will these two ever meet again?


6 reviews

  1. Top Tram Talk

    2 Across
    Brisbane Tramway Museum
    May 9 – 12

    Sometimes the best theatre stories are told through intimate interaction in real time, set in one location. And as locations go, you don’t get more intimate than sharing space on a tram. In the case of “2 Across”, it is an authenticity that only adds to the experience of this certainly Anywhere Theatre Festival show. And you even get to go for a ride!

    It is early morning on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train from San Francisco’s International Airport when the both-married presumptuous, womanising Tom (really Josh) and straight-laced Rita (really Janet) find themselves as the only two riding in one of the cars. Polite conversation begins over share of their common pastime. But their attempts at completing the New York Times’ ‘sadistic Saturday’ crossword seem to be where their commonality ends. As a clear beginner (using a pencil gives it away), Josh doesn’t consider crosswords as life and death and could easily leave a puzzle incomplete given the equal appeal of the paper’s sports page. To Janet, however, exactness is everything. And given that she doesn’t suffer fools easily, it seems that their interaction might not progress much further. But maybe his loosey-goosey approach to life as a between-jobs advertising executive is just what she needs.

    Each has their idiosyncrasies; he has his favourite seat and she is one of those people who says bingo when not playing bingo, which are revealed as the audience voyeurs the unfold of their journey. It’s a journey not just of implied physical distance but of character changes, as the usually very proper psychologist Janet even breaks the rules enough to eat on the train. Indeed, as she attempts to make Josh more sure of himself in preparation for an upcoming job interview, she goes from gruff to giggly and it is clear that there is more at play that just a polite conversation about puzzle guidelines as talk turns to poetry and the intellectual affair that their potentially preordained meeting may have prompted.

    With only really its dialogue to rely upon, the writing of a work like this needs to be something special. And it most certainly is, with many quotable observations such as how crosswords can serve as a metaphor for life. There is much wit too and cleverness in its frequent circles back to previous conversation mentions and it is easy to appreciate playwright Jerry Mayer’s seasoned television writer credits (including episodes of “M.A.S.H’ and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) in its pacing.

    The dialogue-heavy work also means that there is nowhere to hide for its two performers and in this regard they both rise to the occasion. As the organised and sensible Janet, Candice Dittmann is a formidable performer. While Nathan Schulz is wonderful as the free-spirited Josh; even the occasional missed line can be forgiven, given how it becomes absorbed into the natural rhythm of their interaction. Indeed, the snappy delivery of dialogue and believable back and forth between the players makes for an engaging experience that seems to fly by. And Director Schulz does a top job in keeping the essentially static show (two people on a train along with the audience), visually interesting.

    “2 Across” serves not only as unique theatre experience, very much in keeping with the Anywhere Theatre Festival focus on performance anywhere outside of a traditional theatre, but also evidence of how sometimes the smallest of stories can be the best. Although its two protagonist commuters may seem as mere ordinary folk, appearance often belies reality and as their conversation reveals the serious life problems and common vulnerability with which each is dealing, we cannot but appreciate the value of that their interaction brings, as well as wonder what might have been had he not just made it time through the closing doors at the train’s origin stop.

  2. You must see it!

    We started the night by climbing on board an original brisbane tram which meant we were really witnessing this new relationship unfold only a few rows in front. I loved watching the two characters interact and come out of their shells throughout the show. Candice and Nathan truly had me engaged, and I thoroughly enjoyed their performance! I would highly recommend you grab a ticket this week!

  3. Such a great performance! A must see.

    Having never experienced immersive style theatre before, I was unsure of what to expect with 2 across.

    Luckily, Candice and Nathan were able to put me at ease with their thoughtful and engaging delivery within minutes of the show beginning.

    Since watching the show I’ve found myself wondering what happened to the pair.

    I throughly enjoyed the show! Thanks heaps for the amazing night!!!!

  4. Simply amazing

    Last night my best friend and I went to see 2 Across at the Brisbane Tramway Museum presented by Nathan Schulz Presents and Anywhere Theatre Festival.

    At first the idea of seeing a theatre performance on a tram seemed a bit strange and was unsure if I would enjoy it or be able to engage in it but couldn’t have been more wrong. The Brisbane Tramway Museum sets the perfect scene for this romantic comedy and what entails throughout it with the authenticity brought forth by the two actors, Nathan Schulz and Candace Dittman.

    Nathan Schulz, as Tom/Josh, brings light to situations that occur in everyday life while also highlighting how people can breeze through without considering the positive outcomes that could entail by focusing and not quitting just because things are “too difficult”. While Candace Dittman as Rita/Janet pushes his limits and uses her skillset as a psychologist to unlock real issues and get him as well as herself to get their life on the right track. The use of the crossword as a metaphor for life was inspired and talks to how we give up on life so easily. The performance given by these two actors can in no way be faulted – they gave 110% and made it incredibly believable that this situation was real.

    In all honesty I did not want the performance to end I was so entranced on what was going to unfold after they left the tram. The whole time you believed you were actually on a moving tram throughout San Francisco which added to the seen reality being brought before your eyes.

    Well done to all involved, and to Nathan Schulz who delivered a very slick show I would happily see again!

  5. JUST GO: A Ride on a Real Tram, a great cast and a witty romantic comedy!


    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 (written by Jerry Mayer), 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—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,” implying that he is not “mensch“(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.
    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.
    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.
    Audience tip: The Tramway Museum entrance is off the driveway to the Bridge Club. Parking is available onsite. Take a jacket if you are worried about being cold (but the seats are comfortable and the tram is quite warm once the doors are shut!).

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

    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).

  6. Great night out

    This is what Anywhere is all about! 2 Across was an engrossing story of two strangers who strike up a conversation during an early morning commute. What better place to perform it than inside a tram!

    Brilliant story, great acting and the perfect setting.

    I had a great night out, and it was worth the trip from the other side of town.

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