CANMORE – With just two cast members, 52 Pick-Up offers a deeply retrospective look on the ups and downs of a couple’s relationship, from the first meeting to its end.
At the beginning of the play, a deck of cards is tossed into the air and one by one the cards are picked up. Each card holds the title of the scene the actors will perform next, ultimately determining the direction of the play.
“The idea for this one is when you’re looking back on a relationship, you’ll get random snapshots of it and it’s never all in order," said 52 Pick-Up leading co-star Marcus Williams.
"You just get kind of get random little snippets of past relationships when you’re thinking back and looking back on them, so that’s how this play is done in this 52 card pick up style,”
The unique storytelling style of 52 Pick-Up leads to a different outcome each time its performed. While all 52 scenes remain the same, the randomized order creates a completely different show each run through.
“It’s going to be a different show every night because it could be – depending on the order we pick up the cards – it could be happy, sad, happy, sad, which could be a challenge for the actors to switch emotions like that,” Williams said.
In the play’s original text, the lack of stage direction, or context, allows the actors and directors to add their own creative spin to the production.
“For instance, when they say ‘I love you,’ we get to decide if it's a cute moment or maybe they are making up after a fight, which are two totally different contexts to the same line. Or maybe when they say ‘I love you,’ they don't really mean it. It makes the scenes really dynamic and deep," Williams said.
Williams added that communicating through actions, or even sitting through silent moments, can be more telling than words.
As for play director, Shelby Reinitz, the random order of the scenes plays into the complexity of human relationships. Often when thinking back on a past relationship, there seems to never be one specific moment that leads to the break up.
“A lot of times in relationships, there’s not necessarily one big event that makes things go wrong, it’s just a bunch of little things. I think if [people] can see themselves in the story, we’ve done our jobs,” Reinitz said.
52 Pick-Up has a universal message on the nature of relationships which speaks volumes to audience members, allowing people to reflect on romantic relationships.
“For myself it was tapping into that human understanding of relationships. There were a lot of scenes where all of us in the rehearsal hall has been like, ‘oh yeah, I’ve had that happen before,’ or ‘yeah, I can totally relate to this.’ Even when you’re working on it, you can see yourself in the characters, I think that’s kind of cool,” Reinitz said.