This Week in Theater
Train to Zakopané
Review by Rose Desena
Some loves we never forget.
Two strangers meet on a train, there is an instant connection; they progress into a few days of bliss until truths unfold, and secrets are revealed.
Henry Jaglom had a very interesting childhood; his father was a successful business man in Central Europe during the 30’s. He was made Director of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Eventually, like many educated Jews, the family abandoned Europe for greener and safer havens. However, his father was full of memories that regardless of what you leave behind you never forget.
Henry Jaglom’s current play “Train to Zakopane”‘ is a true story, an event in his father’s life that was very dear to him. He loved sharing these memorable times in his life with his son, Henry, who was only too eager to listen. The WW2 generation knows hardships; forced to leave everything behind and building new lives in foreign places was difficult. This tragic event that started on a train and ended way to quickly was a favorite and stayed on Henry’s mind.
Its 1920 in Poland when the play opens, we watch a relationship develop between a bright young man and a Polish Army nurse. They’re magically brought together by the pure generosity of a priest (Stephen Howard) and an eccentric actress (Cathy Arden) as they travel on an overnight train. Howard and Arden display some excellent acting along with nice music and sound effects creating a strong opening.
(Katia) Tanna Fredrick is naive to the savvy manipulative Semyon (Mike Falkow) whose real intensions are dubious. He quickly befriends her and before the train reaches its final destination they are literally, off and running. The stunning Katia bores herself into his soul and leaves him in a horrible position that unfortunately will be impossible to forgive.
The tale is fascinating with some nice moments. Very intriguing with an air of mystery, it should have brought a tear to our eyes and tugged at our hearts, but the flat acting from both Frederick and Falklow at the highest point in the play was disappointing. They both struggled with the text and lacked to convey the tension. Fredrick has a habit of going into her cute, little-girl character. It worked well in
Sylvia but not here as a mature woman sharing something intimate and emotional. The script needs some good editing. Far to wordy, it shouldn’t have been more than 90 minutes. It went way beyond its purpose at two hours plus.
The opening stage set on the train is stunning thanks to scenic artist Maryne Daavid, but the complete set change at the second act is over kill. Both sets were clumsy and forced the actors to move awkwardly around them. More set changes with blackouts through the rest of the production was distracting and unnecessary
This is a classic example of less would have been more. It really has some potential, I would like to see it again if it was reworked, shortened and simplified.
Train To Zakopane
Written by Henry Jaglom
Directed by Gary Imhoff
Cast: Tanna Frederick and Mike Falkow. Featuring Cathy Arden, Kelly De Sarla, Stephen Howard, Jeff Elam.
Thursdays- Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 5:00 closes March 29th 2015 ( check for Holyday exceptions)
Edgemar Center for the Arts, on the Main Stage, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405.
(310) 392-7327 www.edgemarcenter.org