Last updateWed, 14 Oct 2020 1pm


“Two Trains Running” is a Runaway Hit

Two-Trains-Running“Two Trains Running” came to its final stop this week after a successful month-long run at Two River Theater Company.

The play takes place in 1960s Pittsburgh and is part of playwright August Wilson’s 10-play cycle. The cycle depicts the lives of African Americans in each decade of the 1900s.

Taking place in the 1960s means dealing with the civil rights movement in a big way, but that does not mean the play is full of tears and angst. Wilson expertly demonstrates how characters find hope in an era of oppression.

Chuck Cooper shines in his sarcastic moments as diner-owner Memphis. Memphis is trying to prevent the city from buying his diner. Pittsburgh authorities hasn’t offered him nearly enough money for the building and he isn’t giving up what is his without a fight. He would probably keep to himself if it weren’t for the regular customers who keep him on his toes.

Wolf (John Earl Jelks) is a slick bookie who runs numbers in the diner while Holloway (James A. Williams) sits back and plays the numbers with his social security. West (Harvy Blanks), despite being the richest man in town, drops by often for a cup of coffee served by Risa (Roslyn Ruff), a quiet, depressed waitress.

The male cast members shine in their delivery of certain lines. The play does not seem like a comedy when it is read, but the actors give the text a lot of humor. Risa, though, is the only character who managed to become more dull.

Risa had intentionally cut her legs to make herself less attractive and winds up staying in a mental institution. In what seems like a move to convey her mental state, she moves around the stage in a slow, dazed state. She has some biting, saracastic lines, but for the most part she speaks in a monotonous tone while being ordered around.

This choice really made the play drag. She could have been an incredibly interesting character, but instead she was reduced to a zombie. It makes it seem as though people living with depression cannot function, which is kind of offensive.

However, Risa’s love interest, convict Sterling (Owiso Odera) makes up for what Risa lacks in vibrancy. Odera put all of his energy into the lovable Sterling. He bounced around the stage with his fast dialogue and probably garnered the more laughs than any other individual character. His sneaky ways often get him into trouble, but he proves himself to be honorable in some unconventional ways.

Sterling also has his fair share of funny lines, and the enunciation and delivery make certain lines humorour. However, the words themselves are not laughing matters. They discuss police officers shooting black men and social injustices that don’t seem like laughing matters. The comedic take helps convey how normal these awful aspects of life were in this time period in a way that avoids being heavy-handed or preachy.

Overall, “Two Trains Running” was very enjoyable. Two River Theater’s next play will be Stefanie Zadravec’s “The Electric Baby,” which opens April 6. For tickets, call 732-345-1400 or visit University students get a discount with ID.

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151