Chicago Theater Review: THE RECKLESS, RUTHLESS, BRUTAL CHARGE OF IT, OR THE TRAIN PLAY (Oracle Theatre)

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by Lawrence Bommer on October 26, 2012

in Theater-Chicago

A RUSH TO DOOM

As the breathless title suggests, there’s nothing placid or contained about Liz Duffy Adams’ hyper-poetic hybrid of interior monologues and frantic dialogue. The metaphorical/microcosmic setting is a speeding American train whose eight highly driven passengers represent Western culture literally hurtling to some unsought doom. A Midwest premiere, Adams’ “comi-threnody” gives Will Act for Food a wonderfully goofy showcase for some equally obsessed young actors to take a wild ride as naturally as constant chaos can permit.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Will Act For Food’s THE TRAIN PLAY at the Oracle Theatre in Chicago

In less than 90 minutes, and zealously orchestrated by director Andrew Jordan, Adams finds bipedal surrogates for all the human extremes that could drive us to destruction—or rescue us before it’s too late. A scientist (Scottie Caldwell) buries herself in epistemological speculation, thinly concealing the fact that she may be on the verge of some very conditional time travel. Leaping about, twelve-year-old Leopard Girl (Tricia Rodriguez) wonders what her secret power can be and is not too happy that it turns out to be the ability to freeze time. Colin Sphar is suitably manic as Irish lad Gabriel Angelfood, a self-declared celestial being hoping to remake the universe and to discover an “angel-free zone” to relieve his phantoms.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Will Act For Food’s THE TRAIN PLAY at the Oracle Theatre in Chicago

Writer Paul (Reece Thornberry) indulges in erotic fantasies about the Scientist and fends off the inquiries of Gaia (Melissa Tropp), a snobbish, bored and disillusioned Greek goddess with an English accent who finds these mortals casually amusing. Finally, three Russian brothers in quest of world peace (Dennis Frymire, Adam Welsh, and Volen Iliev) play the balalaika, sings songs about their lost horse and Chekhov, sip from their samovar, guzzle vodka, and make bi-sexual love to the lovely Scientist and handsome Gabriel.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Will Act For Food’s THE TRAIN PLAY at the Oracle Theatre in Chicago

At the mysterious end they seem to have reached a destination not on the timetable, a reversed world full of strange colors that superhero Leopard Girl intends to tame. Their mutual unraveling is finally over.

For all its manufactured (but believable) desperation, quiet and not so, this train of fools—highly reminiscent of Twilight Zone meets Sam Shepard—is full of recognizably drifting dreamers, trying as fast as a bullet train can go to outrace their creative confusion, festering memories, delusions of grandeur, and dogged compulsions. They’re a lot like the audience they face.

photos by Andrew Jordan

The Train Play
Will Act for Food at Oracle Theatre
scheduled to end on November 17, 2012
for tickets (name your price), visit WAFF
(contributions also accepted to Lakeview Pantry)

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

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