Trapdoor Theatre’s frenetic revival of its 2000 production underlines just how contemporary this 70-year-old, rarely produced play remains. Stanislaw Witkiewicz, or Witkacy, ostensibly tells the story of a gang of artist/criminals who plan horrible deeds with their hijacked locomotive. But the plot stays barely discernible under shifting layers of identity and repeated disruptions of the theatrical space. One example of the skewed state of mind that “The Crazy Locomotive” invites: a couple of audience members arrived late, bearing wineglasses, and only at the end of the show was I finally convinced they weren’t somehow part of the production. They were quickly followed by Carolyn Shoemaker as the Countess de Barnhelm, an inveterate heckler serving as the de facto chorus from her seat. Shoemaker and the other cast members (particularly John Gray as Slobok and Carl Wisniewski as Tenser) negotiate Witkacy’s hairpin turns with aplomb, alternately shrieking out disquisitions on Einsteinian physics and engaging in odd dance rituals. The single flaw of the production is its video epilogue; presented on a screen far too small for the room, it makes the final several minutes of the show baffling in a much less pleasurable way. With that caveat, “The Crazy Locomotive” is a terrific chance to see one of theatre’s strangest minds brought to a lunatic life. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.