The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek
High atop a railroad trestle that spans a bone dry creek, two teenagers plan to race across the bridge against an oncoming locomotive. At first their scheme adds excitement to life in a small factory town during the Great Depression, then sensual experience awakens dangerous passions in an era of stifled ambitions. With theatrical flourish and lyrical finesse, Naomi Wallace delves into a world where people struggle to change lives that bear down upon them. ..". Naomi Wallace, the thirty-eight-year-old Kentucky playwright at work here, received a MacArthur 'genius grant' last week, and TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, her lovely, strikingly poetic Depression-era play ... certainly illustrates what makes her deserving ... the play sometimes seems like a blend of Ingmar Bergman and Horton Foote, with Thornton Wilder on the side ... TRESTLE is set in 1936 in a in a town so dull that the only thing young people can pit themselves against, the only thing greater than them, is the 7:10 train with its 153-ton engine and deafening roar. So we find Dalton and Pace, who becomes his girlfriend despite his repeated insistence that she is not pretty, making plans to test themselves by trying to outrun the train on a trestle a hundred feet above a dry creek bed. Another boy from their town tried it recently and died ... By the end, the play, like that train, has built up a full head of steam and we feel its power." -Anita Gates, The New York Times ..". TRESTLE is an often poignant, nonlinear-narrative coming-of-age story that's set in 1936 in a 'town outside a city, somewhere in the United States ... TRESTLE is at once charming and haunting ... you'll view it with wonder along the way." -Sam Whitehead, Time Out ..". The honor for the most original and memorable work of this year's 22nd Humana Festival goes to another Kentuckian, Naomi Wallace, for her brilliant THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK ... After the two-act play ended with an erotic, gender-twisted climax, there was a moment in the darkness when I thought: 'This must be how it felt when people saw A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE for the very first time.' Like Tennessee Williams's daring play, Wallace's work introduces a new level of sexual honesty with a fresh mature voice. TRESTLE wraps its five characters in a metaphorical drama within a romantic and tragic mystery. It's a complicated, interwoven play that moves back and forth in time between past and present, with layers of meaning that overlap and build upon each other. Despite its depth of symbolism and clear political message, the play is neither stuffy nor strident. A bright ripple of humor funs through Wallace's play about two sexually charged young people who consider a game of chicken with an oncoming train. Wallace's keen psychological insights evoke compassion for her characters. Tears are shed and not only over the pathos of the play ... The actors stir the emotions with the tender way they expose the fragility and indomitable beauty of the human spirit, as revealed through Wallace's words ... If Wallace's plays were a visual art, ONE FLEA SPARE would be a baroque oil painting, while THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK would be a 1930s American photograph with contrasting lights and shadows and its direct, unsentimental and uncensored gaze into the lives of the working class." -Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal, Louisville
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