Goodnight Lovin' Trail
nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
February 26, 2011
A lot can be said for brevity, though when it comes to writing a play, it’s hard to create a fully developed plot and characters in a short time. John Patrick Bray doesn’t seem to suffer this problem in his 35-minute two-hander called Goodnight Lovin’ Trail, a slice of life drama about two lost souls in a West Texas truck stop diner. His characters, a waitress with family problems and a wandering troubadour whose guitar has gone missing, are packed with emotional baggage, but their dialogue is distinctly realistic. When they deliver exposition, it doesn’t feel like exposition, it feels like two people telling each other their life stories.
The scenario he develops is believable, though there are a few issues of plausibility. Without giving away spoilers, he’s searching for a guitar he’s sure he left in this restaurant and she swears she doesn’t have it (of course, we know she does). As the two begin to talk, they both realize that life has found a way of passing them by. Said plausibility issues are raised when he mentions how he procured the guitar and she confesses just exactly what her family problems are.
Nic Mevoli and Olivia Rorick create well-rounded, convincing characters. Bray’s writing is certainly sensitive (despite an over-abundance of clichés like “not for all the coffee in Guatemala”) and, with director Akia’s brisk pacing, the whole piece feels like it’s over in a clock tick. I’m still questioning whether or not Goodnight Lovin’ Trail should have been a little longer, though there isn’t a single ounce of fat in the script, and the conversation doesn’t carry on any longer than it needs to.