Mount Everest, the world’s highest point, home to countless expeditions of wonder- and awe-filled explorers, is the world’s most popular and talked about mountain among the world’s climbing community. But 1,500 miles northwest of the peak, standing strong amongst billowing cloud, looming over the border of Pakistan and China, is the mountain’s deadly sibling, K2. Where hundreds of people have summited Everest, hundreds more have died trying to mount K2. In Stuart Purdy's eponymous drama, opening this tonight at Queensbury Theatre in West Houston, two climbers face life and death, heroism and hell, all in an unnerving effort to best the snowy beast.
The story unfolds as the climbers face certain death on an icy ledge at 27,000 feet with only one rope between them and one man having a painful injury. The mood of the play mirrors the desperation and hopelessness of the two men, played by Lonnie Westeen and Trevor Cone, but it is the set design which truly captures the intensity of the situation.
"All focus is on the characters who appear to be suspended above the floor in space," describes Purdy. "The set requires a climbing wall, which the actors had to learn to use. There are also stunts and special effects,” the director promises, which no doubt heighten the play’s extreme atmosphere.
The frightening scenario is captured in pure form with inventive set design and a creative use of lighting. The ledge, a space roughly 4x8 feet wide, sits suspended seven feet high above the main stage, as the actors have no way of escaping except to climb down.
The reality of the mountain's deadly force is all too real, as the two men come to terms with their future. Purdy notes the many emotions of the gripping play, "It is tense, wrenching, desperate, with flashes of humor and challenging moral dilemma.”
Feb 4–21. $35. Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury Ln. 713-467-4497. queensburytheatre.org