The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek
With this production, 20% adds a new layer, changing venues each weekend. Being on the move is an interesting choice for a piece about humans stuck helplessly and hopelessly in 1930s poverty. Teenage Dalton and his de facto girlfriend Pace have nothing better to do than plan to race against an oncoming train and struggle with their burgeoning attraction.
MacArthur “genius” recipient Wallace’s 1999 play is essentially a ghost story in which even the living are half-present. Schwan-Rosenwald has done a lovely job showing us how people with nothing create beauty. A candle, Dalton’s hands and a wall serve as a template for all the shadowy, mobile beasts Wallace’s prisoners of circumstance cannot emulate. Ashley Ann Woods’s bare set of rags and metal racks heightens the sense of making do. Yet beyond the visuals, this magical script has been handled with paltry charm. The text travels between blatant poetry and down-homeisms, a tone poem on rural misery. Dalton’s mother tells him, about learning to kiss, “The third time like breathing water for air, that smooth.” But the cast imbues every word with the same importance, rendering it a bit one-note. While the performances captivate, particularly Ed Dzialo as a man emotionally crippled by unemployment, the pace is glacial. Luckily, like the mystery at the play’s heart—whether one ghost was a murder victim—the production keeps us guessing enough to make the ending worth the wait.