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Excellent cast let down by theatre's lack of Chance



Review by Paul Nelson

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.

Why this should happen is not at once clear. I well remember the play Walking the Cyclone, at the White Bear, where a murder attempt was thwarted on the Big Dipper at Coney Island.

As the tiny White Bear managed to stage that, I would have thought the run across the trestle bridge could have been attempted by the technically superior Southwark Playhouse.

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, Music Mixing and Recording Tony Lewis, Designer Jaimie Todd, Lighting Designer David Holmes, Sound Designer Mike Winship, Costume Supervisor Anna Tourmanova. WITH: Steven Webb (Dalton Chance), Hannah Storey (Pace Creagan), Terence Frisch (Chas Weaver), Kate Harper (Gin Chance), Nicolas Colicos (Dray Chance). Produced by ex nihilo theatre, Nia Janis, Nick Williams, in association with Living Proof at the Southwark Playhouse, 62 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1. Tickets 7620 3494

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