During the great depression unemployment stood at 25% and 1 in 3 families lived below the poverty line. For ten years this was commonplace in America; family life crumbled as teenagers would leave home embarrassed at being the 'extra' mouth to feed.
Dalton Chance (Stephen Wright) and tomboy, Pace Creagan (Hannah Storey) escape from the gloom and despair by living out their fantasies under the trestle bridge at Pope Lick Creek. They both 'run the tracks' gambling their hopes and dreams for the ultimate thrill and the feeling that they are immortal.
Dalton's mother Gin (DeNica Fairman) works in a factory where the chemicals permanently stain her hands and the fear of being laid off drives her every thought. Her husband Dray (Julian Protheroe) tries in vain to keep the family together but without a job or a role to play he is scarred for life.
This beautiful production is hard to take your eyes off for a second. The mise en scène is rich with detail and oozes atmosphere. Jaimie Todd's evocative set captures youthfulness accompanied by danger as reality looms large via Mike Winship's imposing sound effects of the oncoming train. David Holmes stunning lighting highlights the mixed feelings of despair and youthful abandon.
Raz Shaw directs the play at a slow burning pace but this suits the narrative which, although fragmented is never hard to follow. The denouement may not live up to its early promise but with spellbinding performances to carry the piece, no-one is left complaining.
This is a character led piece and writer Naomi Wallace has created a rich array of fascinating folk. Fairman's mother is caring, humorous but ultimately a lost soul. Likewise Protheroe's father is etched through his sad facial expressions which reveal his fear. Storey provides the narrative with real heart and soul. Her performance typifies the 'devil may care' attitude that the depression must have created.
Wright, permanently on stage is amazing. This naïve teenager grows up too fast due to circumstance. The young actor lets the audience inside the character's soul and provides Dalton with such depth that you are rooting for him even though you fear that he has turned bad.
Ultimatey Trestle peaks too soon but it remains poetic, sexy, haunting and beautifully realised throughout.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester)