August Wilson's 'Two Trains Running' : A Story Worth Telling Again

I have a theater buddy; she happens to be my mother, Sylvia. (At 64 years young, that's "Ms. Sylvia" to you.) 

When my siblings and I were younger, my parents never had a chance to go on a lot of dates because they were so busy looking after us. Now that we're grown ( ages 25 to 44), we find ways to help them make up for lost time. For me, the best way to honor Mom is to take in some amazing plays at Goodman Theatre.

On Monday, August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" opened for the second time in two decades. The story, set in 1969, hit home for Mom because that is when she graduated high school. That year featured the debut of the Jackson 5 and the Moon Landing. But historians tend to overlook the smaller events of that year. This is why Wilson's storytelling is still necessary some 10 years after his death. 

In "Two Trains Running," Wilson takes a "little story" about a diner in Pittsburgh and gives it a major role in theater history. The spectacular writing gives a voice to everyday people through the gifts of an ensemble cast, brilliantly directed by Chuck Smith. 

As an August Wilson aficionado, I always assume what to expect. But a great director knows how to bring out the key Wilson play elements of quick one-liners and poignant monologues to create an amazing experience. The cast members were all phenomenal-- including Nambi E. Kelley as Risa. They all kept the "train of suspense" running throughout the production.

What my mother and I loved the most was Wilson's pursuit for the "ugly truth" to set us free. During the uncomfortable moments of the play (use of the N-word), we saw how awkward moments opened the door for a greater discussion. 

"Two Trains Running" is part of a citywide celebration of August Wilson's life-- a life that continues to bring new life to theatergoers. When Wilson's soul stepped off this train of life, he left behind something valuable: a legacy of writings which will continue to "move" audiences for decades to come.

BREAKING NEWS: "Two Trains Running" has been extended until April 19! Hurry to Chicago and check out an amazing play. (Click here to find out more.)

(Rating: 4 stars out 4) 

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