‘Rough Crossing’ boasts smooth wit

The Generic Theatre Company’s production of “Rough Crossing” is a delightfully witty and entertaining rendition of Tom Stoppard’s play. Much like an intellectual’s “Three’s Company,” this play relies upon the perpetual confusion of its characters to create its momentum.

Playwrights Sandor Turai (Matt Johnson) and Alexandra Gal (Caroline Nisbet) are on a luxurious cruise ship on their way to their latest play’s New York City premiere. Turai and Gal’s only problem is that they haven’t finished writing it yet.

On board with Turai and Gal are the show’s beautiful but arrogant leading lady, Natasha Navratilova (Brett Gerson), and the dim-witted leading man, Ivor Fish (Thane Tuttle).

Causing the play’s conflict, the writers and composer overhear an argument between Natasha and Ivor, in which it becomes evident that the two have been carrying on an affair, which Natasha is now trying to bring to an end. This is quite a predicament, considering Ivor is married with children, and Natasha is engaged to Adam Adam (Dan Miller), the play’s composer.

The clever but cliche Turai, whose unpredictable “artistic temperament” is wonderfully portrayed by Johnson , conjures up a plan to salvage his work – without the aid of his sarcastic, playfully insulting partner Gal.

Turai’s plan goes as follows: Natasha and Ivor will present a scene in Adam’s presence, claiming to have written it themselves, to conclude the unfinished play. The scene’s dialogue will be a re-enactment of the conversation overheard the night before, thereby recovering peace and tranquility for the artists, as the outraged, cuckolded composer realizes what he heard was merely a rehearsal. But of course, things don’t always going according to plan.

There are several hurdles overcome throughout the play. Adam has an unfortunate anxiety-induced stutter, which causes a delay in his speech. When he attempts to respond to his co-workers, his answers generally come after another question has already been posed. Of course, his answers are presumed to be in response to the latter question, leading to many humorous conflicts and double-entendres.

The audience also has the pleasure of encountering the character and actor who steal the show, as Dvornichek, the ship steward who unfailingly confuses his orders. A charming character played by Matt Krell, Dvornichek is the unsuspecting recipient of many of the show’s puns and witticisms. In spite of his various blunders, he is responsible for the requisite happy ending.

“Rough Crossing” is playfully humorous, intelligent and witty. Its characters are realistic, yet frivolous. In this regard, it is a richly enjoyable viewing, sure to engage even the sharpest audience.

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