“Topdog/Underdog” is the first show in the Two River Theater‘s 2012-2013 Season. We attended the opening on Friday and thought it was very powerful and dynamic. It will be running until September 30th, so get your tickets today before it’s too late! We are proud to be production sponsors of this show!
“Topdog/Underdog” is the story of two brothers, named Lincoln and Booth, who find themselves struggling to survive. Lincoln tries to make an honest living as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator in an arcade game, sitting and awaiting the tourists who will take their shot at him. Booth attempts to make his way as a three-card monte scammer but needs the help of his brother. They struggle together through their love for each other, their poverty, and the inevitable.
This play certainly proved a difficult one to convey as we struggled to capture the tension in the play, create bold and captivating imagery, and stay within the design standards of our “look again” theme for the season artwork.
We began by playing with the images of the card suits, particularly the heart and the spade, which play together well as they face in opposite directions, showing some of the tension between these two brothers. We also tried to work with the silhouettes of the two brothers’ faces.
As you can see, as we moved forward we made the colors more dark and intense and we experimented with knocking the silhouettes of the two brothers out of the top hat. We then decided to remove the figures’ silhouettes from the equation entirely, as they were too difficult to place them in a way that their subtlety would match the rest of the posters.
We then began to use the playing cards, putting the symbols of the top hat and the gun, representing Lincoln and Booth into the cards.
Finally we arrived on our final version — the gun.
This poster emphasizes the tension of the play, with the gun as the primary object. The presence of the gun is provocative and bold, revealing that which we know is inevitable — the shooting of Lincoln. Subtlety nestled in the trigger are the spade, Lincoln’s winning suit, and the heart, Booth’s winning suit. A strong force of tension between the two brother’s is Booth’s desire to make a life for himself with the cards and Lincoln’s refusal to help him to win big. But with the pulling of that trigger, both brother’s will lose.