Theatre Review: Outrunning Trains and Learning About Life with The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek

By Kristin McVeigh

Imagine a creature with a head like a goat and the body of a man haunting a train track to scare kids. This is Pope Lick Creek’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot. The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek is, believe it or not, set in Pope Lick Creek and grasps the mysterious element of the myth of the goatman.

A boy and a girl become friends during the Depression era and decide to outrun a train. Not only does it sound boring, but it sounds like a cheap out-take from Fried Green Tomatoes. But this play isn’t boring, it’s a layered and gritty experience. At times, it’s even raunchy, posing interesting questions about human nature.

The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek is able to drag a palpable sense of desperation onto the set. There are five main characters: the train outrunners, Pace and Dalton; Daltons parents, Gin and Dray; and the prison guard, Chas Weaver. Pace and Dalton deal with the fact there’s little left for them beyond their small town and Dray deals with his lack of employment.

The simplicity of this storyline is deceiving. In a Hollywood world, explosions and elaborate fight scenes mask the creators without anything to say. This story is saying something, bringing you into the story and begs you to ask questions of yourself.

It’s helped along with an unusually intimate setting. In the front row they literally tell audiences to keep their feet tucked in so actors won’t trip. Actor’s can literally spit all over audiences, if they were to vocalize in their direction. It’s an amazing experience to be so close to the action, with an actual fly on the wall experience. Or a weirdo watching young children outrun a train.

It’s the human questions which really draw a person in. Dray is faced with questions of being a man. He is suppose to support his family, but with no job, he questions if he even has an identity. Pace wonders whether a person has to be seen to make a point and through sexuality and danger she expresses this.

At times the play does drag a bit. However, there’s enough intrigue to keep you onboard. A mystery is what ultimately ties it together. The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek isn’t supposed to entertain your brain for a couple of hours, but to actually say something about people, which can be a scary venture.

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