Word of mouth happens after the fact. The mystery then is trying to remember how you found yourself standing at the box office, buying tickets for a play where the venue itself does not make any mention of it beyond the lobby.
The word is what we have, formed from our thoughts, desires and goals. Words on a page come from writers, authors, those who would choose to speak through scratching ink on parchment. Last Train to Nibroc is a reminder that failure happens when you settle and give up.
Breanna Murray and Jeremy Cloyd are awkward, and familiar at the same time. They work that angle as the years progress from 1940 to 1943. The banter progressing from a series of repetition and tics, to stammers and cutting each other off. It's a relationship that's borne out here, the way we talk with people changes and evolves, and it's here in Arlene Hutton's script.
The jaunt of a spare seat on that train, to May (Murray) correcting Raleigh's (Cloyd) grammar in a playful manner, we watch and listen on as they grow closer, the terms of friendship built over staggering stumbles and life getting in the way. Dreams change course as many times as there are stations on the railway tracks. Knowing what your plans are is one thing, getting them to follow the same map is a beast of its own creation.
Directed by Sommer Schoch, this is personal, a little coy, and with a humour bubbling from a genuine pocket within. They don't know each other, and there's a yearning anguish of getting close through distances as May commands a classroom of 51 kids while Raleigh chases his dream in a far off state. They age in the sense we all do, through getting on with life and realising how much home is where the bleeding heart resides.
The setup of the Carnegie Community Arts Center is close, intimate. A nice match of location for this production from Flashback Theater. You can also see the actors' lips turn blue and bluer as the night creeps on. The humming whine of the air conditioning unit at first making you think it's the sound effect of the train pulling out of the station. But no, that's more cold, huffing into the rows and coring out your bones, leaving you a shell as you stretch and crackle after the play ends. That artificial lamp in the third act feels so welcoming your cheeks will warm up.
The dialogue between May and Raleigh, as in how Murray and Cloyd deliver their patter, drives it all the way. It is a bench and two people, and time is already gone.
Checking off your own list of life goals is what Last Train to Nibroc brings to mind. Sitting there recounting and recollecting stories is not sad, unless you never get up to take the seat and ride it all the way around the detours.
Sitting a spell on a cold 14 February 2015 night at the Carnegie Community Arts Center in Somerset, Kentucky.
Reviewed on Tuesday, 17 February 2015