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Thought provoking “The Sunset Limited” @ none too fragile

Roy Berko

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

Cormac McCarthy, the author of “The Sunset Limited,” which is now on stage at none too fragile theatre, probes, in his script, the topics:   Why would someone want to commit suicide?  Why does one person turn to religion when angst-filled, while another rejects the concept of a deity?  Is traditional education a negative or positive influence in dealing with problems?  What is the meaning of life?  Can a person change from killer to saint?  It probes the decisions to end one’s life, as well as human suffering.

“The Sunset Limited” is a two-person character study centering on dialogue rather than being a traditional action driven play.  In fact, the real action of the play takes place before the initial lights come up.

The ninety-minute poetic drama takes place in a small inner-city project apartment.  It is a conversation between two unnamed men, “Black “ and “White,” whose identifications match their skin color.  The former is very large and speaks Black English, while the latter, sometimes addressed as “Professor,” is slender in build and obviously well-educated as represented by both his language, and the way he formulates his ideas.

As their histories unravel, we become aware that Black has been in jail for murder.  While there, he became an evangelical Christian, having found “Jesus.”  His world revolves around reading and believing in the “Bible.”

Just before the duos’ entrance into Black’s apartment, White had attempted suicide by jumping off the platform in the path of The Sunset Limited, a train that travels from New Orleans to Los Angeles.  Black grabbed him and stopped White’s flight to death.

As director Sean Derry revealed in a conversation following the production, he needed to “cut a lot of the dialogue,” which, in form, “is really more novel than a play script.”  It is not by accident that the subtitle of the piece is, “A Novel in Dramatic Form.”

The script is filled with well-conceived, insightful written lines, such as:  “Education makes the world personal.”  “All knowledge is vanity.”  “The darker story is always the correct one.”  “You are walking around dead.”  “There is a lingering Scent of divinity.” And, “There is a hope of nothingness.”

The men sit at a table, share coffee and food, move into the living room area, constantly talking.  There are no physical battles, no strong display of emotional outbursts.  Not much physically happens, but ideas flow.

Myron Lewis, as Black, is an imposing presence.  He creates a real person who comes across as someone with an honest bent on “saving” White, both physically and spiritually.  His is a nicely textured performance.

Richard Worswick, as White, also develops a believable being, filled with angst, overwhelmed by life, having few friends, and possessing little reason to live.  He makes us believe that he has rejected the basic human need for survival and is ready to depart from his earthly existence.

Capsule judgement: “The Sunset Limited” is a thought-provoking script, which gets an intelligent production at none too fragile.  It is a play that will hold the attention of those interested in a philosophical delving into life, religion, and the human condition.

Big news from none too fragile.  The company will present “Possum Dreams,” a play they staged in June of this year in New York in March, 2015.  Watch for the official announcement!

“The Sunset Limited” runs through September 27, 2014 at none too fragile theater which is located in Bricco’s Restaurant, 1841 Merriman Road, Akron. For tickets call 330-671-4563 or go to