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Talk about meeting cute: Janet (Eileen Bowman) and Josh (Marc Sylwestrzak) struggle onto the BART airport shuttle from San Francisco, on the way to their respective homes across the Bay.
It’s 4 am and Janet, settling into a nice empty car, picks up a crossword puzzle. All this uptight, mace-packing psychologist wants right now is a little peace and quiet.
She is not thrilled when happy-go-lucky Josh invades “her” territory, even less when he asks her to move, claiming she is occupying his “lucky seat.” To shut him up, she moves, though she’s obviously not happy about it.
Jerry Mayer’s “2 Across” plays through Sept. 23 at Vista’s Broadway Theater, directed by Randall Hickman.
Janet takes puzzles seriously – she lugs around a big bag with a dictionary and an atlas, and sees puzzles as a metaphor for life, even claiming that “Those who don’t finish small things like crosswords don’t finish big things either.”
Josh does crosswords too, but he’s a happy duffer, willing to trade the puzzle for the sports page when the words get too hard. But it’s the volume of Petrarch’s sonnets in Janet’s bag that convinces Josh they should be friends.
It’s a perfect match, right? Well, maybe “perfect” is the wrong word. Maybe “match” is wrong too, considering they’re both wearing wedding bands.
What their obvious personality and attitude differences are perfect for is a breezy Neil Simonesque comedy like “2 Across.” Mayer’s impressive background writing TV sitcoms (“All In The Family,” “Mary Tyler Moore”) is evident in this lightweight stage comedy, with plenty of one-line zingers and no great substance.
The real life husband and wife stars give us believable characters, even though it’s difficult to imagine that Janet and Josh would last longer than five minutes in the same room. Their fine work is good enough to make us overlook even the questionable premise and the too-convenient ending.
Bowman, a staple on local stages (especially in musicals), is masterful in her portrayal of buttoned-down (and -up) Janet, to whom play seems an alien concept.
Sylwestrzak’s Josh is excellent, and exactly the type who would drive Janet crazy – a loosey-goosey, roll-with-the-punches guy who doesn’t even seem much concerned that he’s been unemployed for 18 months.
There’s nothing here to strain your brain, but Hickman keeps the pacing brisk and Mayer’s clever one-liners will keep you giggling.
“2 Across” plays through Sept. 23 at the Broadway Theater, 340 E. Broadway in Vista.
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm.
For tickets, call 760-806-7905 or visit HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.