BOTTOM LINE: A particularly well-put together festival piece about grit, connection and consequences.
Produced by Rising Sun Performance Company, Goodnight Lovin' Trail is a tale about morality, worth, value, humanity and the weight of sin, wrapped up in a bite sized 40 minute package, with a pretty little song stuck on top as a bow.
The play takes place in a Texas truck stop diner, where two strangers, Lee, a waitress and single mother (played on the night I saw it by Olivia Rorick) and a nameless cowboy type referenced only as Coffee and Cigarettes (played by Nic Mevoli on the night I attended), cross paths as the drunken cowboy attempts to find his lost guitar. Rorick and Mevoli work beautifully together and form a fast believable intimacy. Rorick particularly does a brilliant job of portraying a deeply layered rich character instead of a Texas caricature.
Although certain plots points feel a bit contrived, playwright John Patrick Bray's use of language is especially adept. His characters teeter fluently between casual dialog and lyrical whimsy and feel both earnest and engaging. Good Night Lovin' Trail occasional feels incomplete, as if it is the last forty minutes of a much longer piece; because of this the characters at times feel rushed, but at the very least it's an engaging and thought-provoking forty minutes.
In a festival filled with lots of barebones camp and solo shows, Goodnight Lovin' Trail is a finely produced play and a wonderful choice for those seeking a production with considerable substance.
(Good Night Lovin' Trail plays at The Red Room, 85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and The Bowery, through March 5th, 2011. Remaining performances are Monday, February 28th at 6:30PM; Thursday, March 3rd at 8PM; and Saturday, March 5th at 3:30PM. Tickets are $10-$12 and are available at smarttix.com. For more festival information, visit frigidnewyork.info.)