William Gibson uses deus ex machina as a defining plot driver in his Two For The Seasaw. The way his characters meet stains credibility. Unlikely becomes awkward in search of a raison d'etre. The acting by Maggie Chestovich and Stephen Cartmell is engaging, but lost on the shaky play by Gibson. Dated and foul tempered, the play follows the meeting and romance of Gittel from the Bronx and Jerry from Nebraska. Jerry's wife has left him for a colleague and he has fled to New York, taking his loneliness out on Gittel.
Set designer and director Bain Boehlke wisely chooses against simply dividing the stage in two to accommodate the two apartments. He places Jerry's apartment upstage and off to the left, accentuating the stolidness and claustrophobia of Jerry's New York. Gittel's apartment is cozy and she is firmly both in the city and in her life. Their time together is spent solely in Gittel's apartment in a painful dance around intimacy - emotional and physical.
Jerry is self-absorbed and inconsiderate, nursing his wounds in Gittel's company. Gittel is strong, but incautious and stumbles from one ill-considered relationship to the next. Jerry is steadily revealed as a leech and a brute, glomming onto his father-in-law's influence during his entire career. He even slaps Gittel without apology. Gittel's suspicions about Jerry and the relationship are borne out, even as Jerry denies both.
He is in half flight from Nebraska and his privilege and behaves as if he is "slumming" in New York, looking for a part of himself that he is not all that interested in embracing. Gittel is all symbol to him and he never comes anywhere near her emotionally.
There are strange turns of dialogue like stairs leading to walls. At times, the characters are talking past each other, never gaining traction with sincerity or commitment. Gittel is florid in her gestures and movement, both entrancing and fragile. She is a mix of street wizened strength and young girl neediness, hoping that this entanglement with Jerry will become something more substantive.
The play is long -- nearly three hours with two intermissions. Though well directed and superbly acted, the play is tedious. Gittel and Jerry circle around their tenuous relationship without making any ground. Listening to the banter is much like reading a list of metaphors that mean the same thing. Gibson's play is rarely performed and I think for good reason.