New Jersey Stage
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
New Jersey Rep Presents the World Premiere of Night Train by John Biguenet
There is something mysterious about trains that has crept into our collective consciousness. Perhaps it is the idea of boarding a railroad car and then passively sitting back as it speeds down tracks that cross borders and are seemingly immune to barriers of terrain. Unfazed by day or night, snow or rain, up snow-peaked mountains, over lakes and tumbling rivers, through isolated forests, and meadows painted with flowers, rushing and clattering past the darkened windows of abandoned buildings, factories and tenements, and above deserted streets, providing a glimpse into the underbelly of foreboding and unfamiliar cities and towns. And then of course there are the anonymous passengers, wending their way to unknown destinations. Agatha Christie famously captured this atmosphere in her well-known mystery, "Murder On The Orient Express." She found the setting of trains constantly inviting for telling a good thriller as she placed her illustrious protagonists, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, on other trains as well in "The Mystery Of The Blue Train" and "4:50 From Paddington." Alfred Hitchcock capitalized on the story-telling possibilities of a train ride on the big screen when he adapted Patricia Highsmith's novel, "Strangers On A Train," and now New Jersey Rep perpetuates the genre by presenting the world-premiere of John Biguenet's comic-thriller, "Night Train."
Biguenet is a writer of varied talents who has gained prominence by publishing six books including "Oyster" and "The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories", released by Ecco/Harper Collins. He has received an O. Henry Award for short fiction and a Harper's Magazine Writing Award, and his poems, stories and essays have appeared in "The Best American Mystery Stories", "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards", "The Best American Short Stories", "Best Music Writing", and various anthologies. As a guest columnist for the New York Times, Biguenet chronicled his return to his home in New Orleans after the catastrophic flooding and efforts to rebuild the city. As a writer for the stage, his play "Rising Water" has won many awards and has been widely produced. He is currently the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.
"Night Train" begins with Alex, a well-dressed, well-heeled banker, played by Michael Irvin Pollard, riding the midnight train alone in his first-class compartment. His starting point and his destination are unclear but we know that he will arrive by morning, anxious to rejoin his young wife. Into his compartment barges Max, a gregarious stranger played by Philip Lynch, who claims that he is seeking refuge from a noisy second-class compartment nearby. Like the speeding train the play takes many twists and turns and when Max introduces Alex to the sultry and mysterious Marta played by Maria Silverman, we know that we have boarded a train where all our expectations will be derailed and where our final destination will remain shrouded by the drifting smoke of the locomotive until the final jarring stop.