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Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre returns to the stage in Port Theatre debut

Theatre group presents ‘2 Across,’ described as a ‘middle-aged romantic comedy’
Barbara Metcalf and Brian March, seen here in rehearsal, star as crossword puzzle enthusiaists who meet on the San Francisco subway in ‘2 Across.’ (Photo submitted)

After presenting a pair of virtual productions this summer, Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre is making its return to the stage.

From Oct. 1 to 4 the theatre company presents 2 Across, by American playwright and longtime television comedy writer Jerry Mayer, at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. The play concerns a man and a woman who meet on an empty subway car in San Francisco at 4:30 a.m. and strike up a conversation soon after they find they’re working on the same crossword puzzle.

Western Edge artistic director Brian March, who play the male commuter, Joshua, describes it as “a smart, funny play.”

“I would call it a middle-aged romantic comedy,” he said. “I wanted something that was a little lighter during these times. You don’t want to go and see something too serious at this point because we have enough to worry about.”

The woman on the train, Janet, is played by March’s parter, actor Barbara Metcalf. They said it’s the first time they’ve starred opposite each other in a two-person play in 20 years, but rehearsal has been convenient as they live together.

March said this is the first time Western Edge is staging a production at the Port Theatre. He said the venue was chosen because “we didn’t really feel safe” doing a performance at their usual venue, the Harbour City Theatre. March said the Port’s size allows for up to 50 audience members to safely space themselves apart. ‘Seating bubbles’ of up to six people will be allowed, there will be no intermission and the concession will be closed.

March said 2 Across plays with the metaphor of a crossword puzzle, as over the course of their commute the characters help each other solve puzzles in their own lives. But when they first meet they have very little in common.

“Janet is a psychologist who is very organized and has very clear ideas of who she is and, I won’t say ‘rigid’ in her way of thinking, but she has very strong ideas and she sticks to those,” Metcalf said.

“[Joshua]’s kind of in-between things right now but he’s a bit more loose, flamboyant, has a sense of humour that Janet perhaps doesn’t possess and so they’re quite opposite,” March said.

Despite, or perhaps because of, those differences, the pair find that they have a lot to learn from each other.

“They don’t see eye-to-eye in a lot of things,” March said. “But at the same time his job is to break down the wall that she has, that rigidity, and I guess her job is to try to make him see that perhaps his life is a bit up in the air and maybe he needs a bit of structure.”

WHAT’S ON … Western Edge Theatre presents 2 Across at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Oct. 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. $27 general admission, $22 for Western Edge or Port Theatre. Tickets available at the Port Theatre box office, by phone at 250-754-8550 and online at

RELATED: Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre staging online production via Zoom

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