Theatre Preview: Who wins:kids versus train?

By Chris Courtice

No one thinks about outrunning trains anymore. Back in the old days, people played tag with trains across trestles all the time. Some even made it. Waiting to see the train come around the last bend before the bridge crossing–just enough of a lead to maybe make it to the other side ahead of the hulking steel behemoth.

The adrenaline rush and the questioning of one’s physical ability to complete the quest; these are just a few thoughts going through someone’s head before the decision to attempt the impossible. Then the run with the realization that it is possible. Finally, the satisfaction of beating something so insurmountable.

But this current generation of kids, with their iPods and hip hop music, just don’t appreciate the exhilarating feeling of running away from death. Thanks to Naomi Wallace and her new production from Sage Theatre, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, these spoiled punks can get a 1930s-style thespian boot to the teeth on train running.

Set during the depression, Pope Lick Creek is the story of Pace and Dalton, two teens growing up during those disheartening times. The two are witnesses to the incredible devastation and attempt to find some sort of grip on life. They find it in their plan to outrun a train over a bridge.

“They do that to give their lives some sort of meaning, a purpose, at a time when they are watching their parents fall apart,” explains Adrienne Smook, the actress playing Pace.

They also find meaning in each other, as Pace and Dalton’s relationship gradually turns to love. On the opposite side of love is despair and the emotion is summoned when the story turns to Dalton’s parents.

“You meet Dalton’s parents, you see them struggling with the times and unemployment,” says Smook.

As a contrast to the fancy-free antics of the teens, the play delves into the trials and hardships of the average person. As well, it explores the surface of war and conflict during the time period. These sectors of the story create a wonderful slice of the way life would have been during the ’30s. Even though the plot may seem dark and depressing at times, Smook assures there are light moments.

“I think people will be surprised at how funny the show is,” divulges Smook.

The young actress is happy with the way the production has taken shape and is eager to begin. This is Smook’s first endeavor with Sage Theatre, but definitely not her first time in the Calgary theatre scene. Smook was part of many productions with Theatre Junction last year. Some of her recent efforts include The Constant Wife and The Optimists. After this play, Smook will be involved in several other imminent projects, including the upcoming Ignite! Festival.

Much like outrunning her own trains, Smook exceeds all expectations, making it to the other side of her own thespian trestle. And with her future bright, she might just decide to run the gauntlet a few more times, just for fair measure.

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