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Abstract “The Train Play” confounds at convergence continuum

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle)

Liz Duffy Adams, whose play, “The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It, or The Train Play” is now on stage at convergence continuum is noted for being an American abstract writer.  The word “abstract” may be the key to confronting “The Train Play.”

The play may well represent “the derailment of American dreams and apocalyptic nightmares,” as it was described by a San Francisco reviewer, or it may be, “a meditation on time, history and apocalyptic anxiety during an all-night journey to the end of the world,” as explained by another reviewer.

Or, it might just be an attempt by the writer to convince intellectuals that she is actually saying something of great philosophical sense and purpose, when the whole effort is to try and duplicate the concept developed in television’s “Twilight Zone,” and tease the viewer into believing that what is being said is greatly profound, when, in fact it is nothing but a device to confound.

So, what’s it all about?  We find ourselves observing a group of people entering and becoming seated on a train to some unannounced place.  The announcer abstractly and humorously, announces that we are about to go on a journey.

We are in the company of Gabriel Angelfood, who appears to be a deranged young man who babbles incessantly about angels and other topics as he scribbles away in his notebook.

There is Leopard-Girl, a twelve-year old who goes through life reliving antics of comic book characters.  She seemingly believes that she can make herself invisible, freeze time, and look into the future.    There is a female Scientist who is running from something or escaping to something.

Paul is writing a travel book, and is also in a flight to or from.  Gaia is an older woman who is in a flight of fancy and trying to avoid the boredom in which she lives, and there are three Russian brothers who are touring the United States in search of something, who sing of their former lives.

Yes, these are lost souls who appear to be on an absurd journey, searching the cruel world, trying to “outrace their creative confusion, festering memories, delusions of grandeur, and dogged compulsions.”  They eventually confront a metaphorical apocalypse.   Sound abstract?  It is!  Sound like the work of a playwright who could have spent her time in a better pursuit?  It is!

The con-con production, under the guidance of Clyde Simon, gets what it can from the abstract script.  Wonder what would have happened if the director had overdone the acting and pushed a farcical approach.  Marcia Mandell, noted for doing ditzy women, is the comic relief of the production.  She has some wonderful over-blown moments as Gaia.  Maybe an entire cast of overblown characterizations would have at least made the play worth sitting through by infusing laughter into the goings on.

As is, Cody Zak was properly possessed as Gabriel Angelfood.  Sweating, red cheeked, mumbling to himself, he clearly displayed signs of both craziness and guilt.

Taylor Tucker, though a little to old to be playing a twelve-year old, effectively emerged herself into portraying characters from her fantasy comic book world.

Lauren B. Smith was uptight as the Scientist.  Her sex scene with Beau Reinker (Sergei) was well done.

Tim Coles did a nice job of creating Paul, a man in conflict with himself and the world.

The three Russians, Mikhail, Sergei and Dmitri are well played by Robert Branch, as the older and “wiser” brother, Beau Reinker as the cute, seductive, musical Sergei and Jack Matuszewski as the poet Dmitri, who has a nice make-out scene with Cody Zak (Gabriel Angelfood).

Capsule Judgement:   “The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It, Or The Train Play,” should appeal to con-con audiences who attend in their search for off-beat theatre.  If you are looking for a play with a message, it should be easy to use your imagination and conjure up a lesson to be learned from the abstractions and pseudo-philosophical pontifications which flow from the mouths of the actors. 

“The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It, Or The Train Play,” runs through July  18 2015 at 8 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at convergence-continuum’s artistic home, The Liminis, at 2438 Scranton Rd. in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.  For information and reservations call 216-687-0074.