Train Driver Disturbing Compelling Drama at Long Wharf
By Bob and Karen Isaacs
BOB: Long Wharf Theatre is producing a play by one of the great playwrights of our age
KAREN: Athol Fugard
BOB: called The Train Driver. Long Wharf, back in the 70s produced one of his earlier plays, Sizwe Bansi is Dead. In the last couple of years Long Wharf has produced Coming Home and Have You Seen Us?
KAREN: The Train Driver -- it is a fascinating, disturbing piece. I think that Gordon Edelstein who directs it and is also Long Wharf's artistic director wrote in the program about how Athol Fugard has told stories of human weakness, the miracles of forgiveness and transformation and the possibility of human connection. This is really what this story is about.
BOB: It is a two person, one act play -- about 90 minutes. It is two guys talking.
KAREN: But the story that they tell is riveting. It's Roelf played by Harry Groener who we know as a musical comedy performer, who is a train driver on a suburban commuter train. He hits a black woman and her baby and kills them. There was nothing he could do to prevent it; she stepped in front of his train but it is haunting and destroying him. He comes to the graveyard where her unclaimed body is buried. He comes to the cemetery where Simon the grave digger is
BOB: to search. to find out who this person is because no one knows who she is
KAREN: No one knows anything about her. He comes initially to yell at her for destroying his life through several days, he stops wanting to yell at her. He feels he knows her. He wants to claim her.
BOB: He makes a connection with Simon, the gravedigger. It is beautifully done. When I walked in a saw the setting. What effort went into the set by Eugene Lee.
KAREN: And the lighting by Christopher Akerlind. The performances are wonderful.
BOB: You really need to see this. Fugard said that everything he has written before has led to this -- refusing to allow the dead to pass into oblivion.
KAREN: This is The Train Driver -- it is an East Coast premier and it runs through Nov. 21 at Long Wharf. Go see it. You cannot walk out without being moved and disturbed.
This ran on WNHU-FM, 88.7 and www.wnhu.net from Nov. 8.