THE CRAZY LOCOMOTIVE, Trap Door Theatre. If the scrappy Trap Door Theatre stumbles a lot, perhaps that’s because the company tends to choose demanding, convention-defying plays that would throw even the most seasoned professionals for a loop. With their production of Stanislaw Witkiewicz’s The Crazy Locomotive, however, they hit the ground running and never break stride.
Witkiewicz, the great Polish avant-garde playwright, painter, and philosopher, wrote most of his frantic, explosive plays between the world wars. He often railed against the increasing mechanization of society, and nowhere with more venom and vehemence than in The Crazy Locomotive, in which he pictures modernity as a runaway train driven by two sociopathic outlaws bent on crashing it head-on into morning commuters. As usual there’s no plot–instead Witkiewicz creates a swirling vortex of images and actions that suck his already maniacal characters down to the depths of madness.
Director Andrew Krukowski, a Polish native, must feel Witkiewicz’s lunacy in his bones, for he stages the piece with monstrous finesse. His six stalwart cast members navigate the script’s treacherous psychological terrain with ferocious good humor, clawing their way through each bewildering moment like predators on the hunt. It’s a buffoonish, perverse, assaultive, and exhilarating ride, just the kind Witkiewicz must have envisioned.