Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 30, 2013

The Sunset Limited

New Century Theatre, Northampton, MA
through July 6, 2013
by K.J. Rogowski

“The Sunset Limited” roars through the New Century Theatre with a compelling head of steam and a cargo of provocative questions, arguments, and passions.

Cormac McCarthy’s skillfully designed plot and characters, along with two actors who understand and deliver his contrasting messages make the evening. The playwright has crafted a trap, symbolically locking tthe duo in a room, struggling to discover why they are there. They, like their names and races: Black and White, set the tone. For these two men, that is the way they live their lives, each believing in their unique creed, unyielding, and engaged in a series intense debates of age old questions on the value of life, commitment to your fellow man, and what, if anything, there is after all this.

For one man, the answer is a drive to help those in need, living where the down trodden and social misfits dwell; and for the other, to simply end the suffering which he sees his life has become because of the ultimate futility of all man’s undertakings. For one it has been a life of crime, prison, and murder; and for the other, a life of privilege, education, and insights; but for both, lives that have brought them to have done things neither can dare to reveal.

The set, designed by Shawn Hill and Amy Putnam, captures the power of McCarthy’s plot, for as the show opens, the sound of "The Sunset Limited" bellows, lights pulsate, and the set rolls headlong towards the audience, screeching to a halt at the stage’s edge. And just like the two locked in the room on stage, the audience instantly knows that the Limited is headed dead on for them, just as McCarthy intends. This is a trip well worth taking.