Psyches stripped in ‘An Accident’ 

On some level, you have to expect unconventional things from a playwright who hails from the town that gave birth to barbed wire. Imagine the metaphoric wonders that can arise from that.

Playwright Lydia Stryk took advantage of her Dekalb, Ill., roots and used those experiences to pepper her work, specifically “An Accident,” which begins previews at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre today and opens Wednesday.

At first glance, it appears to be a gutsy emotional endeavor. A woman is critically injured in a freak accident and the man responsible is suddenly by her side trying to help her find real hope in life.

“This is about what it means to be in an accident and the way it can lead to some very unusual kinds of encounters between people, because of the nature of the experience,” Stryk says.

“What was most interesting to me was how these two people were brought together; how that intensity can lead to unusual and very intense and very specific encounters.”

In other words, the psyches of lead characters Libbey and Anton (Arwen Anderson and Tim Kniffen) will be stripped naked, dragged around a messy mental playground and scared; it’s a savage glimpse of how people face real issues.

“It’s intense,” Anderson says with a nervous laugh. “There are constantly opposing forces smacking up against each other all the time here. You have this woman in a bed and all she wants to do is get up, and you have this situation where what comes out is anger. It’s complex. The characters are often saying one thing, but feeling another.”

The work, directed by Rob Melrose, came to being, actually, from a real-life experience.

“The play has a biographical base. I was, myself, in a pretty bad accident in Berlin, so this comes out of something very concrete in my own life,” Stryk says. “It took seven years and it took my suddenly discovering a relationship in order for me to write about it.”

As for Anderson, the actress has the challenge of having to remain in a bed during much of the production. Still, her character is “one spunky lady.”

“Regardless of what’s going on, that’s the most exciting part,” she adds. “No matter what seems to have happened, Libbey just seems to have some killer attitude. That’s one of the things that really drew me to her.”

An Accident

Presented by Magic Theatre

Where: Fort Mason Building D, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays; 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. most Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; closes May 9
Tickets: $25 to $55
Contact: (415) 441-8822,

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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