Thursday, April 20, 2017
Arlene Hutton’s Nibroc trilogy deserves a permanent place in the American theater repertoire. Seeing Last Train to Nibroc again after catching the two subsequent installments only confirmed that these are plays that people are going to want to see, and actors are going to want to perform, for a long, long time. The initial play is a two-hander for May (Ming Lauren Holden) and Raleigh (Justin Davanzo), young Kentuckians swept up by the advent of World War II into uncertainty about their respective places in a rapidly changing society. They first meet on a long-distance train ride from Los Angeles, where May has gone to meet the soldier who is now her former fiancé, and where Raleigh has been discharged from the U.S. Army due to his epileptic seizures.
The next hour and a quarter takes us and them through two years and three locations, from the train to the Nibroc Festival in Corbin, Kentucky, and finally to the front porch of May’s parents’ farm. Their courtship, like all the interactions in the trilogy, is a quicksilver blend of wit and pathos, with Raleigh’s intellect and vulnerability meeting its match in May’s determination and sincerity. Davanzo and Holden were superb together in this production, easily capturing the audience and maintaining that grip straight through to the end. The intelligent choices, solid craftsmanship, and understated ambition of this Train left one looking forward to seeing more from DogStar and director Nita Davanzo.