Beautiful words 

‘Towns Facing Railroads’
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Jan. 22

For those who haven’t yet experienced the rich imagery and drama of Jo McDougall’s poetry, “Towns Facing Railroads” at the Arkansas Rep’s Second Stage is a great place to start.

The expressive three-person cast of JoAnn Johnson, Nancy Eyermann and part-time Arkansan Joseph Graves brings McDougall’s words from 71 poems to life in a series of vignettes, covered in one act, about small-town life in Arkansas. The town names of Hoxie, Wabbaseka, Hope, New Smyrna and such ring true as places that were built up against railroad tracks, many of which were welcoming passenger lines as late as the 1950s but now barely see any rail shipping traffic at all.

Each actor varies his or her tone and accent to suit the many characters and styles required –- Johnson was Katherine Hepburn-like in one delivery. Graves jumps around with the energy of a man half his age. Eyermann, young and beautiful, conveys the innocence of small-town life and experiences.

Love, farming, family, pets, the people of the towns, the events that highlighted life there such as the traveling circuses, and death –- they are all significant subjects woven together by McDougall’s words. And what words and lines they are: “a Cadillac polished like a Steinway,” “the toothpick pelican that bowed when you left,” “death has a musty breath.”

Set designer Mike Nichols makes great use of the tiny space, with an imposing portion of a picture frame serving to anchor the stage on the left; an old, rickety train track curving away from the center, and simple, unvarnished woodwork throughout serving as benches and walkways.

All the elements combine for a well-spent 70 minutes.

“Towns Facing Railroads” continues through Sunday, Feb. 5, on the Second Stage, an 80-seat small box on the second mezzanine level of The Rep, at 601 Main Street. All seats are $25.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jim Harris

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation