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TWO REVIEWS OF TRESTLE, ONE IN SOUTHWARK WITH STEVEN WEBB. ONE WITH STEPHEN WIGHT AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE MANCHESTER.

 

The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek @ Exchange Studio
Kevin Bourke

THE music that plays out after the final curtain call of this poignant and powerful play is Bruce Springsteen's defiantly mournful song, Factory, and the characters in Naomi Wallace's play have much in common with the beautiful losers and daring dreamers of Springsteen's work.

However desperate their lives may be, they are struggling to keep their dignity and humanity alive, to do more than just survive. The play, adroitly directed by Raz Shaw, opens on the edge of a small "town outside a city, somewhere in the United States."

It's 1936 and the country is devastated by the Great Depression. Seventeen-year-old girl Pace Creagan (Hannah Storey) is trying to persuade a younger boy, 15-year-old Dalton Chance (Stephen Wight), to join her in playing chicken against the speeding locomotive that will soon roar by, high over their heads on the narrow wooden railway bridge, or trestle.

Dalton's father Dray (Julian Protheroe) has been laid off and spends his day making shadow figures, while his mother Gin (De Nica Fairman) is involved in the struggle to keep the local glass factory working.

The fifth member of this skilled cast, Terence Frisch, plays Chas Weaver, a prison guard who we see in a simultaneous narrative quizzing the imprisoned Dalton. Something dreadful has happened, but what?

Delicate and poetic, yet forceful and profound, this is a riveting production of a truly terrific play.


 

(An edited) REVIEW FROM www.indielondon.co.uk

THERE are occasions during The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek when the excellent cast are wrong-footed by their author.

 

There are also times when the author, in her more poetic flights of dialogue, commands the attention of the listening audience.

 

These latter moments are few and far between and this depiction of a series of events taking place during the Thirties American Depression takes on the air of something in a test tube, a specimen to be analysed and examined rather than enjoyed, which is what the prime purpose of a play is, or should be.

 

As it is the general gloom of the period takes over the lives, not only of the older generation thrown out of work, but the younger generation with no prospects, seeking thrills that cost nothing, except the gambled possibility of loss of life. To underline an already laboured point, the family name is Chance.

 

The trestle of the title is a high railway bridge, and is the focus of a couple of disaffected young people who try to periodically beat the train in a 'chicken' run.

 

This, the mainspring of the plot apart from the Depression and its effect on the Chances, unfortunately happens off stage, leaving the actors to struggle with the causes and the after effects on their lives.

In spite of an awesomely talented cast, who work really hard and are at times quite dazzling, the evening disappoints. No innovative particular point is made, and with the dramatic events taking place elsewhere, a feeling of emptiness pervades the play.

 

I kept wondering why I was there and alone in what was actually a reasonably full theatre.

 

Outstanding are Steven Webb, Nicolas Colicos and Kate Harper, and left behind, through no fault of her own, is Hannah Storey. I offer a small crumb of comfort to her; it is not her fault that she, a delicate and lovely girl, has been cast as a bit of a bumpkin.

 

The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek by Naomi Wallace, Directed by Raz Shaw, Composer Andrew Green,

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