According to College of Charleston mathematics professor Mick Norton, the chances of someone seeing the same exact version of 52 Pick Up that they saw the last time it was performed in Charleston is less than one in 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
That number — eight followed by 67 zeros — is so fantastically large it doesn't even have a name, according to Dr. Norton. (If you really want to waste your time, multiply 52 times 51 times 50, and so on, all the way through to 1, to get the same answer.)
Here's why: the play dissects the beginning, rise, fall, re-rise, and final failure of a love affair into 52 short scenes. Each scene relates to a card in a deck. The actors Llysa Holland and Andrew Litzky present the deck of cards to the audience at the beginning of the play, and then throw the cards up into the air and randomly pick up each scene from the floor — thus beginning the world's most elaborate "game" of 52 pick up.
Litzky and Holland, married in real life, have performed several times at Piccolo in the past, including productions of 52 Pick Up and the dense Notes from Underground, and have appeared at fringe festivals all over the world, even as far away as Singapore.
"There was this one guy in Adelaide (Australia) who'd seen 52 Pick Up six times, meaning he's seen it as many times as our director," says Holland. "He told us, 'It's emotionally exhausting to keep up with you guys."
Regardless of what order the scenes are performed, the end of 52 Pick Up is always the same. Ironically, the original authors of the piece (not Holland and Litzky) ended up getting divorced during the process of completing it.
Holland thinks she has a way to break the show's "curse."
"Because we've got all these five o'clock shows, we thought we should turn it into a happy hour for singles, where all those who come to those shows can go for beers afterward."
A perfect idea considering that, either because of or in spite of 52 Pick Up's ending, it's a perfect play for a date night.
52 PICK UP • Piccolo Spoleto's Piccolo Fringe series at Theatre 99 • $15 • May 28, June 3 at 2 p.m.; May 30 at 7 p.m.; May 31 at 3 p.m.; June 1, 4, 8, 9 at 5 p.m.; June 6, 9 p.m. • 1 hour 15 min. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060