Caution: The show you are about to enjoy from the Seattle-based company, theater simple, includes intensely funny scenes and is prone to extremes.
The show, 52 Pick Up, is described as an "intimate 75-minute showpiece of acting, chance and human emotion." The audience will take a journey with the actors through a collection of scenes-52 to be exact. The show examines the relationship from before it starts, throughout its duration and into the end, but in no particular order.
The recipients of critical acclaim for stage delivery, theater simple's Andrew Litzky and Llysa Holland will delight a lucky audience at a 7:30 p.m. show Thursday, June 2 in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Metcalf Theater.
The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., said "52 Pick Up delights and amazes," while the Edmonton Journal, Alberta, Canada, called it "a stunning combination of stagecraft and storytelling."
The title of each scene in the show is placed on the top of each of the playing cards in a deck. The cards are tossed in the air and "we do the show in the order in which we pick them up off the floor," said Llysa Holland, actress, producer, director and co-owner of theater simple. She and Litzky, her husband of more than two decades, have run the self-described "mom-and-pop shop" and performed the show together for more than 10 years. She added: "Every time we perform this show it's in a different order."
She and Litzky are the only two actors in the show. The opening scene is anyone's guess, she said: It could be the end of the relationship, a blow-up argument, when the couples actually meet for the first time, or a conversation with friends. The actors don't know.
"We really have to be on our toes emotionally," Holland said. "It might have one of us on stage talking about an ideal person, followed by a blow up fight, followed by a year in the relationship. You have to be willing to jump in any different direction depending on the luck of the cards. We make no effort to control what's next."
Holland added, what is exciting about 52 Pick Up, which was written by T.J. Dawe and Rita Bozi, is: "The character performing on stage doesn't know what's next. In a way the audience gets to know secrets the characters don't know about each other."
The duo has performed for mixed audiences-from groups of predominately men or women, to couples in different age groups, from their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. It's been performed as a Valentine's Day show, as well as an Anti-Valentine's Day show, Holland said.
"All the incredible foot-in-mouth moments are in this show," she said. "Each audience is going to see a unique show that will highly unlikely ever be repeated."
An award-winning, internationally acclaimed company, theater simple was founded "with the aim of stripping the theatrical experience down to its elemental parts: the imagination of the actor and audience, the playwright's words and the director's vision," according to the company's bio. The company has performed and toured internationally since 1991, participating in international arts festivals from East (Spoleto Festival USA, Piccolo Theatre series, Charleston, South Carolina) to West (Perth International Arts Festival Fringe, Western Australia), to Far East (Flipside, Singapore Arts Festival). The company's bio continued:
"In more than 17 years of touring and producing, theater simpletons have built six theaters in Seattle and Australia, and produced more than 30 plays in four countries on three continents.
For more information about theater simple, visit: http://www.theatersimple.org.