Friday, December 11, 2015

Off Broadway Theater Review: 2 Across

Andrea McArdle and Kip Gilman. Photo: Carol Rosegg
What's an Eight-Letter Word for 2 Across? Charming
By Lauren Yarger
What's an eight-letter word beginning with a "C" that  describes a two-hander about a guy and a girl who meet on a train? 

In the case of  2 Across, the new comedy by Jerry Mayer (a writer for TV shows like “M*A*S*H,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “All in the Family”) Off-Broadway at St. Luke's Theatre, the answer is "c-h-a-r-m-i-n-g" -- and you can use that "i" to fill in the word "surprising" going down on the crossword puzzle grid, because the "two people meet and spill out the details of their lives" plot is a hard one to pull off on stage.

Mayer gets help from the charm of the actors here: Andrea McArdle (Broadway's original Annie, all grown up) and Kip Gilman (Aspirins and Elephants), directed by Evelyn Rudie. Janet (McArdle) and Josh (Gilman) meet aboard a Bay Area Rapid Transit train, each doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. At first, snobby Janet (she does her puzzle in pen) isn't interested in conversation with the affable Josh (who does his in pencil), who asks for some help with clues tot he puzzle.

But before long, the two are opening up about their lives: she's a psychologist and is worried about her 18-year-old son who has just joined the Marines, presumably on a whim.  He left behind his family button-making factory, but now finds himself unemployed and on his way to an interview for a job he doesn't really want.

"Something pre-ordained is happening here," Josh finally says when the two find themselves attracted to each other  despite their spouses and start entertaining the thought of an affair. All is not as it seems, however -- more importantly the plot doesn't take us down the predictable plot we think it is going to --  and we find as Josh and Janet do, that a lot can be learned about someone's character by how they complete a crossword, or solve the puzzles of life.

The charm of the story and the engaging characters developed by the actors are a pleasant surprise. The development of the relationship, played out in real time almost seems plausible, but that quiet train doesn't. I wish MetroNorth trains looked so nice (set design is by Scott Heineman, with train sound effects provided to enhance the commute) and were so roomy. Josh actually stretches out across unoccupied seats and the couple are able to change seats in the otherwise unoccupied car. Maybe I should just start covering theater in San Francisco where the real BART provides service.....

The play is performed in 90 minutes with no intermission.

2 Across plays through Jan. 31 at St. Luke's Theare, 308 West 46th St., NYC. Performnces are Wednesday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $39.50 - $69.50:; 212-239-6200.

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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