Two lifers have shared a prison cell for nearly 12 years. The younger masturbates to a copy of Playboy, the older averts his eyes behind a copy of The New Yorker. Robert has just returned from a week’s stay in the infirmary after a botched suicide attempt. Robert is filled with anger and desperation and has never shared the details of his crime. Jack, who harbors a foot fetish, is hopeful for parole in five months even though his then seven year old victim remains in a coma. A surly guard, the only female guard in the entire prison, is their only visitor until a woman arrives during a storm to conduct an in-cell survey of the two men. The storm knocks out the electricity and the backup generator doesn’t power the cell doors so the two women are trapped with the two inmates for the duration. And the audience also feels trapped in this exercise in tedium entitled The Last Train (Le Dernier Train).
The original play was written in French by Swiss writer Natacha Astuto and the English Hollywood Fringe Festival version was rewritten by Astuto and actor James Svatko who plays Jack. If the play made sense and had any hint of tension in its original language, it was totally lost in translation. The twist at the end is totally unbelievable because the setup is so ludicrous. Justin Maroso’s direction was negligible and the acting is strictly amateurish. At the curtain call the audience seemed embarrassed to applaud. Board this train at your own peril.
Schkapf Obscura, 6567 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Ends June 26. www.hollywoodfringe.com