MORRIS – A delightful comedy opens this weekend at the Morris Theatre Guild. The play, “2 Across,” has been described as not unlike the romantic Meg Ryan movies “You’ve Got Mail,” with Tom Hanks, or “When Harry Met Sally,” with Billy Crystal.
The two characters meet on the train, said Anna Ficht-Kowalcyzk of Morris. In fact, the whole play takes place on the train. Kowalcyzk plays the role of Janet, one of only two characters in the play.
“She’s a psychologist who is a plays-by-the-rules type of person,” she said. “She has a very satisfying life without a husband or anyone else in her life except her son. Then in comes Josh, a very free spirit. ... She finds that there’s something about Josh that’s been missing in her life.”
The role of Josh is played by Mathew Root, also from Morris. He’s just the opposite of Janet: Unemployed and jumping from job to job.
The two initially find common ground in the otherwise unoccupied train car in their mutual interest in the New York Times crossword puzzle, which they are both working on.
When he tosses the paper aside out of frustration, she says, “Crosswords are a metaphor for life. Those who finish, succeed. Those who don’t, fail.” Josh is challenged and being a competitor, vows to finish the puzzle.
“He peeks over her shoulder to see her answers,” the play’s director Judy Miller said. “By the time they reach their destinations, they’ve helped each other solve more than just the puzzle. As the ride ends, each knows they have been changed forever.”
Miller said the play also is about language and words. Rehearsals have been fun with all the talk of crossword puzzles, too. Miller said her husband, Alan, has been doing the New York Times crossword for a couple of years, and now she has picked it up, too.
“We’ve had the most fun talking about the puzzles,” she said.
Miller chose the play because of its fast pace and witty lines. It’s a challenge for actors to do a two-person play, she said, because they have so many lines to learn. But she said the two took it and ran with it.
“I picked two strong horses because each one would have to have half the lines in the whole play,” she said.
“I knew they could do it. They have both lived up to it and have done very well.”
The play was written for a San Francisco commuter train, but Miller changed it to the Chicago CTA Blue Line, which runs between O’Hare Airport to Forest Park, with such recognizable stops in between as Rosemont, Harlem, Logan Square, Monroe and Pulaski.
Kowalcyzk said she’s never been in anything less than a four-person play before, but that the lines and the character make the role interesting, and she said her co-actor Root is wonderful in it.
“It’s just really fun,” she said of the play. “It’s for everyone 14 and over who wants a good time. It’s a feel-good and funny and witty and high comedy.”
If you go
Morris Theatre Guild play: “2 Across,” a comedy about crosswords and romance set in a Chicago CTA train.
When: February 14, 15, 16, and 21, 22, and 23. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Morris Theatre Guild, 516 W. Illinois Ave. in Morris in the Canalport Community Center.
Tickets: $12 in advance for adults and $10 in advance for students and children. The at-door ticket price of $15 applies to everyone.
Reservations: Reservations may also be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.morristheatreguild.org or by calling (815) 942-1966. All unpaid reservations will be held until a half hour before the production begins. House buy-outs are available for $300.