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If anyone ever doubted August Wilson’s talents, Goodman Theatre’s production of Two Trains Running, now at the New Regal Theater, provides further proof that he is the greatest American playwright working today. Inspired by L.J. Welch’s blues number “Still a Fool” (“There’s two trains running / Ain’t none of ’em goin’ my way…”), Wilson uses a series of conversations at a Pittsburgh luncheonette to explore the broken dreams of African Americans who rode the rails north to freedom only to find another sort of slavery. Two Trains Running has less action than Wilson’s previous plays, but he invests each of his characters with so much wisdom that every line of dialogue carries the dramatic force and lyrical poetry of a gospel prayer. From the disturbed Hambone’s impassioned plea to be paid what he is owed to the independent-minded Risa’s violent response to being treated as a sex object, the words and actions of Wilson’s characters speak to entire generations of people who are not given the respect they deserve. Director Lloyd Richards’s brilliant handling of a stellar cast continues the best director-playwright team in the business today. New Regal Theater, 1645 E. 79th, 721-9230. Reopens Thursday, March 4, 8 PM. Through March 14: Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays-Sundays, 2:30 and 8 PM; Tuesday and Wednesday, March 9 and 10, 8 PM. $14-$32.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eric Y. Exit.