Theater review: American Players Theatre’s ‘Rough Crossing’ is a breezy voyage of farcical charms

Posted July 12, 2021

Rough Crossing Web 2

By Cameron Cieszki | The Capital Times

Emerging from the choppy waters of a pandemic, American Players Theatre returns to Spring Green in a tight, rollicking comedy set on the briny deep. Running July 1 through Aug. 7 at the Hill Theatre in limited capacity performances, APT’s production of English playwright Tom Stoppard’s “Rough Crossing” is a breezy voyage of deceit and farcical charms.

Liberally adapted from celebrated Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár’s “Play at the Castle,” the show sees playwrights Sandor Turai (James Ridge) and Alex Gal (Jamal James) onboard the SS Italian Castle as they work on their latest musical. Both writers are hoping to refresh their careers by working with a buzzy new composer, the anxious and lovelorn Adam Adam, played by Josh Krause.

The nervous musician is engaged to one of the stars of the show — the striking Natasha Navrátilova (Kelsey Brennan). But when Adam overhears Natasha’s co-star Ivor Fish (Marcus Truschinski) confess his love for her, the writers must work to keep their cast afloat. Nautical nonsense ensues on a tropical-themed ship set created by scenic designer Scott Adam Davis.

Director William Brown is quite familiar with Stoppard’s clever wordplay and comic mischief; he directed APT’s 2014 production of Stoppard’s “Travesties” and was mentored by English theatre and film director Peter Wood, known for premiering Stoppard plays throughout the 1970s and early '80s.

“Rough Crossing” isn’t notably one of Stoppard’s most beloved works, but Brown brings a lot of care to the show’s conceit. The simple romance-centered plot about the making of a not-so-simple play doesn’t chart unfounded territory, but Stoppard’s comedy and buoyant wit gives actors plenty of maritime mayhem to dive into.

Read the rest of the review here.