Few shows can be described as riveting but Off Broadway West’s Bay Area premiere production of The Train Driver by Athol Fugard fits that description precisely. It helps to have a Tony Award winning playwright and seasoned director Richard D. Harder to interpret the work. Harder previously won an SF Bay Area Critics Circle Award for directing OBW’s production of Fugard’s “Master Harold” and the Boys.
Set in Fugard’s native South Africa, the 75 minute drama follows a white train driver Roelf Visagie (intensely depicted by Conor Hamill) who is devastated by unintentionally killing a black woman who stepped in front of his moving train with an infant strapped to her back. Haunted by the experience, Roelf seeks solace and answers by traveling to the township’s graveyard where he encounters the aged black gravedigger named Simon Hanabe (a sensitive portrayal by Melvin Thompson). Simon’s job is to bury the “nameless”. Through their unlikely friendship, Roelf comes to face his guilt and remorse.
Fugard has called The Train Driver his most significant work in a 50-year career. A longtime advocate of the abolition of apartheid, Fugard is a master storyteller interweaving the personal with the political. While his characters may not be formally educated, their driving need to understand their life experience makes them both genuinely articulate and ultimately poetic.
The Train Driver continues at 8pm Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays through December 6, 2014. 3pm Sunday Matinee November 30.
The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street (near Geary) Sixth Floor, SF
Tickets: $40 General Admission (TBA, Senior, Student & Group Discounts Available) 1.800.838.3006 www.offbroadwaywest.org
Information: 510.835.4205 email@example.com
November 23, 2014 Linda Ayres-Frederick