On Saturday I went with Stu and some of his friends from NIH to Arena Stage's Krieger theater to see the play K2. The play had originated in Washington about 20 years ago and here and later went to Broadway and was a success in both places; this was a revival of the original production.
What had impressed many people the most during the first run was the setting for which the set designer had won many awards. It's a two character play taking place near the top of one of the mountains in the Himalayas. All the action takes place on a ledge on an ice face of the mountain. The entire stage is a wall of ice extending from below your line of sight to above the theater's rafters. The set was very impressive and very well done. The two characters are amateur climbers, in their real life one is a physicist and the other is a district attorney. One of them has broken his leg, the other has injured his shoulder and much of their equipment has been lost. There's a two or three hour window of day light before snow starts and temperatures drop below where humans can stay alive. The play revolves around which if either, will survive.
I found the first third of the play somewhat pompous, "show offy" and dated. But as the action and situation wound up, there was no intermission, the play and the performance improved a great deal and I was very impressed by the time we reached the end. The district attorney character is presented as a loner who loses himself in anonymous recreational sex; the physicist is a reformed hippie who has married and settled down but who puts up a front of being anti-establishment. The action is resolved by the district attorney saving himself and leaving the physicist to die; he had first refused to do that because he would have had to live with the consequences all his life. The physicist convinced him to do it to be able to bring a message to the physicist's young son.
The actors played the roles well. At first I thought that the district attorney was played by the same actor who was the boxer in a recent production of Camino Real; but he just looked similar. There was one minor jarring point where the district attorney is speaking about his relationship to tomato sauce which is based upon the innumerable Italian family dinners he had been at. A line was shoved into the play to somehow explain why an African-American was raised by an Italian family.
Who's Who in K2
Taylor Craig Wallace
Harold Rick Holmes
DIRECTOR Wendy C. Goldberg
SET DESIGNER Ming Cho Lee