Tremont’s convergence-continuum is perhaps the most consistently off-the-wall theater in the area. One constant is that the company presents shows here that you’ll not see anywhere else.
Running through July 18 is “The Train Play,” which uses a train as a metaphor for our journey through life, and the way that very different people can find themselves in the same environment. In a way, the concept is a bit trite, but “The Train Play” has some clever and unexpected moments. There’s also a lot that the audience can easily anticipate as they get acquainted with the odd lot of travelers.
Cody Zak is Gabriel Angelfood, a largely incoherent character who feels that his relationship with angels will somehow connect him with the future of mankind. Taylor Tucker is Leopard-Girl. The character’s name is a placeholder for the 13-year-old who reads enough comic books to convince her that she has some sort of superpower. The name will serve until she figures out what the superpower is. Perhaps the best-acted role in the show is performed by Tim Coles as Paul, a burned-out, cynical travel writer whose bleak notes on what he sees outside of the train window would never entice anyone to imitate his itinerary. In Cole’s performance, every word is believable within his character’s reality. The audience can sense his frustration with an unruly child, his shock when a character threatens him with a gun, and his unexpected pleasure upon discovering some really good Scotch. Unseen in the show is Ben Gregg as the disembodied voice of the conductor. Playwright Liz Duffy Adams has the conductor make commentary on government-subsidized railroads, poor working conditions and the frustrations of the conductor’s personal life.
I also enjoyed Lauren Smith, who plays a manical scientist. Like most of the characters, she speaks directly to the audience, but connects with them with her energy and sincerity. Completing the cast is Marsha Mandell as Gala, another tense woman and three Russian brothers, traveling the world to spread a message of peace. That no one can understand them, and they don’t understand the other passengers. starts as ironic. The outcome of their message of peace is a pair of romances with other passengers. Beau Reinker plays Sergei as well as a ukulele. With Jack Matuszewski as Dimitri and Robert Branch as Mikhail, they form an ungainly trio. Still, they give the show its musical moments, which is an energy boost when one is needed.
Clyde Simon’s direction is clear and illuminating. The difficulty is that the script does not have enough to illuminate. With a running time of 80 minutes, “The Train Play” runs out of steam a bit before all the lines are said. The surprise of what lies at the show’s “destination” will not be much of a surprise to the audience. Despite its thinness, “The Train Play” has entertainment value for the audience.
Read and corrected with no additional comments.–Lesley