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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Capital Fringe's 'Last Train to Nibroc' is a sweet exchange

Lena Winter stars in Last Train to Nibroc at the Capital Fringe Festival
A man and a woman sit side-by-side on a train bound from California for Chicago, strangers until they meet, like we all are.  The time is World War II.
He’s a recently discharged soldier ("medical reasons"), and she’s a religious “goody goody,” sporting the hurt of a recent break-up.
They share the train with the coffins of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathaniel West, and I'm not sure what that connection was, other than "Raleigh" (Justin McLachlan) is an aspiring writer, and "May" (Lena Winter) is a reader.  A religious reader, at that.  It's the last train Fitzgerald and West will ride.  Maybe it's May's "last chance."
It doesn't take long for the two living travelers to discover their common link in Kentucky where May is headed to meet family, but Raleigh is bypassing the state, his homeplace, too, for New York.
Hold it: May has never been to Kentucky’s Nibroc Festival (that's Corbin spelled backwards) and Raleigh invites her to go, of course. She hesitates:  "Do you really want me to go?"  Oh, come on, May!
Like one might expect of a sheltered, conservative woman brought up in an evangelical household, May shuns anything which remotely suggests fun and excitement.  With library shoes on her feet, an old-woman's hairstyle, and in a sedate dress with a brooch conveniently pinned at the center to hide cleavage, May is correctly costumed for her role in the 1940s.
In the second scene (which could be eliminated), Raleigh wears a wife-beater with suspenders, no belt, and a cap, perfect for the era and quite a contrast to his military uniform in the first scene. 
Their southern accents are a trifle overdone, and their conversations, not all sweetness and timid affection like one exudes when trying to make a favorable impression.  (In WWII, I believe they called it "courting.") 
Innocent conflicts are heard over the three scenes spanning several years for, after all, what's a performance without conflict?  Not a play.
Some of the dialogue is redundant.  However, the ending was a surprise  for I thought it was on a different track.
Props are minimal and totally adequate:  a bench and two chairs, and what more do you need?  A sunset.  Provided.
The two actors made me realize more than ever the wealth of talent found in Washington, D. C.  which Fringe allows us to observe with its myriad, versatile offerings.  Some friends tell me they love theatre but don't even know what I am talking about when I say "Fringe." They don't get out much.  How could theatre-types not know Fringe? I like to say I am "doin' the Fringe."
Another thing I adore about this festival of independent works is the hole-in-the wall buildings which come alive for some of the venues (all, air-conditioned!)  like the Nibroc site conveniently located right around the corners from Fringe Capital ("Fort Fringe") where you can get good cold beer at reasonable prices and the best hummus and pita I've eaten. 
On last Saturday's  hot afternoon,  service was a mite slow, no doubt explained by waitstaff and volunteers who have never waitstaffed or rung up a bill, but the beer temperature and the tasty morsels made up for it.
Get out and support your local arts community and have a good time, too.
Last Train to Nibroc, directed by Scott Sparks, written by Arlene Hutton, and presented by Homeward Theatre, was first staged by the New York International Fringe Festival before it went on to Off-Broadway.
What:  Last Train to Nibroc
When: July 17, 7:45 p.m.; July 21, 6:15 p.m.; July 24, 9:15 p.m.; July 26, 9:45 p.m.; July 28, 12 p.m.
Where: 612 L Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
How much: $17 + a one-time charge for the $7 Fringe button required at all venues, or buy discounted seats in multiples.  Buy online or at the box office.
Metro stations:  Metro Center, Mt. Vernon Square- Convention Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives
For more information:  866-811-4111
Language:  Nothing offensive

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