First up, the Backstage West review of the show. I can’t really take issue with it; it says a ton of good things and adds a few criticisms that I think are sort of par for the course when a show tries to pack so much into such a short time. Still sounds like she had fun:
November 29, 2006
By Jennie Webb
Okay, who doesn’t like trains? And I’m not talking the metro rail or subway. No. Real trains that travel from coast to coast. Trains are fabulous things, whether it’s our personal memories or imaginary musings or just the idea of ’em: traveling across the country, inevitably reaching their destinations at a speed that allows for oh-so-many possibilities, undeniably mechanical yet somehow magical, grounded yet capable of taking us on wonderful flights of fantasy. But in this day and age, in America, as a reasonable means of cross-country transportation, they’re pretty much dinosaurs. Writer-director Cecil Castellucci gets this and then some. Her new play is a love letter to all things Amtrak, and it has a definite charm and is well-mounted, with skill and affection. Unfortunately, it’s so stylistically schizophrenic that after it’s over we haven’t arrived anywhere it seems we’re supposed to.
On a simple set, Castellucci puts two pairs of sweet young things traveling in opposite directions. Going west in 1881 we meet a stylish man seeking his fortune (Ransom Boynton) and a woman (Darcy Martin) heading toward a teaching job and possible rancher husband. The 2006 eastbound couple is made up of a woman (Royana Black) on her way to meet her Internet pal, hoping it’ll be a romance, and a quirky philosopher (Jeremy Sean) looking for answers. Rashelle Stocker plays the conductor, interacting with the couples in both centuries and guiding the audience through the history of trains, among other things. The actors relate to the audience as well as to each other, and they narrate from correspondence and diaries, relate itineraries, divulge secrets, enact fantasies and scenes from Alfred Hitchcock movies (complete with video), sing and dance, and so on.
Although the talented actors seem to have a grasp on the all-over-the-map pieces of often-fun material—the playwright’s honest and humorous dialogue works particularly well in the hands of the vulnerable Black and Sean, who couldn’t be more adorably dysfunctional—and Castellucci makes use of her admirable chops as a director, at this point Westward Expansion has a ways to go before it becomes a journey audiences will get much out of.
$10! Come see it….
“I don’t recognize myself anymore” is a bit of a cliche, but I find myself thinking it more and more often these days. It starts with the physical changes, mainly due to exercise and weight loss. I found a couple of little ridges on my eye sockets that I’m fairly sure I’ve never seen before. I look in the mirror, and not only do I not recognize the face, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. Then I start to feel like I don’t recognize my facial expressions anymore, and then my thoughts. I don’t know if any of that makes any sense, but it freaks me out a little bit.
—___—___—___— It’s been really cold the last few nights, and when you live in a car, cold is COLD. I can’t help but think how much worse it is for those who don’t even have that. Every night in Santa Monica, near the Promenade, you can see people sleeping in the parking lots of closed businesses. They use the little cement blockers as pillows, and roll themselves up in blankets and sleeping bags like stinky little Blunts. That must suck.