Posts Tagged ‘Cormac McCarthy’

Throughout this play I was wondering why it felt different from any other one-act two-character piece I’d seen before. Reading the writer Cormac McCarthy’s biography in the programme on the way home, I saw it described as ‘a novel in dramatic form’ and then it made complete sense. Though there’s an apartment setting and the two characters interact, it did feel more like reading a novel, and the writer is indeed a novelist.

The characters are called White and Black, though their race didn’t seem particularly significant to me. We’re in Black’s NYC apartment. He’s brought White home after rescuing him from a suicide attempt. He believes god sent him to do this. White doesn’t remember seeing him there before his aborted jump. We learn more about Black than we do about White – his murky past, being born again and his faith. All we really learn about White is that he’s a professor, he’s alone and he’s deeply pessimistic about the world in which we live. Black is trying to keep White there because he fears another attempt, and believes it’s his calling to prevent this.

I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the play seems to be named after a long-distance Amtrak train (I’ve been on it!) but it goes nowhere near NYC and the suicide attempt appears to have been on the subway anyway. It’s a very wordy piece that’s relatively undramatic, though the performances of Gary Beadle and Jasper Britton are superb. Not being someone of faith and being a generally positive person, I’m afraid I found both Black’s blind faith and White’s nihilism difficult to stomach. Worth a visit for the performances alone, though, and good to see this new venue is as suitable for intimate theatre as it was for a chamber musical.

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