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The Sunset Limited - Ladue News: Arts & Entertainment

The Sunset Limited

Soundstage Productions

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Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:00 am

Play: The Sunset Limited

Group: Soundstage Productions

Venue: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd.

Dates: August 21,22,23

Tickets: $12; contact 314-968-8070 or soundstage@charter.net

Story: A well-dressed middle-age white man is snatched from his attempt at suicide at a train station in New York City by a black man who stops him in the act. The latter individual takes the suicidal person back to his own home near the station, and attempts to feed him both physically and spiritually. A former convict, the savior has now dedicated his life to Jesus and helping others in need.

His latest project, however, is stubbornly convinced that his own life has become futile, that life in general has no purpose, and that he sees no real point in prolonging his loneliness and despair. The two acts of this drama focus on the ongoing interplay between the missionary and the suicidal professor, a literate man who nonetheless has become bereft of hope.

Highlights: Written by Cormac McCarthy, whose novel, No Country for Old Men, was adapted by the Coen Brothers into the Best Picture of 2007, this two-character drama has virtually no action, putting considerable strain on the audience as well as the two actors who talk engagingly but repetitively for nearly two hours. While the play espouses to be a serious and somewhat even dialogue about theology, Christianity and atheism, the author’s true intent comes through coyly at the work’s conclusion.

Oddly enough, the sound design ostensibly offered by director David Houghton ends with Simon & Garnfunkel’s superior ballad, The Boxer, whose ultimate message contrasts with the work presented on stage.

Other Info: Houghton nicely allows for his performers, Archie Coleman and Bob Harvey, to play off each other behind three sets of stands for their books in this Readers’ Theatre adaptation. The two players do a fine job for the most part and are effectively integrated into their respective roles, which includes interplay about their respective races and perceived backgrounds.

Additionally, background illustrations by artist Joshua Duncan shown in a series of slides underline the dreary effect of the script. Still, the minimal action shapes the production’s languid pace, like an endless wait for a train that seemingly isn’t going to arrive. In the end, The Sunset Limited, despite its allegorical title, is a poor substitute for Waiting for Godot.

Rating: A 3 on a scale of 1-to-5.

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