TRACKS written and performed by T.J. Dawe. Presented by Big Sandwich and the Fringe at the Tarragon Mainspace. $8. July 6-14. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Fringe audiences who leaped onboard T.J. Dawe's solo show Tracks had one of the best rides at the festival. Dawe has proven himself an adept storyteller (Tired Clichés, Labrador) in other one-person shows, but in this adaptation of autobiographical writings by Jack London, he goes further, carving out three-dimensional figures and narrative. He has a gift for conjuring up pictures for the audience -- vivid filmic-style images complete with rapid-edit cuts -- that fill out the nearly bare stage.
Dawe's material is mostly about riding the rails. It's the 1890s, and the teenage speaker, filled with wanderlust, leads a hobo's life, travelling around the States and Canada one jump -- sometimes literally -- ahead of the brakemen and detectives who try to keep him off the trains he scrambles onto. With a simple wheeled platform as his set, Dawe plays out a wonderful series of cat-and-mouse games as the speaker rides between baggage cars and sometimes, dangerously, under the cars themselves.
Tracks is probably the only show that's ever used the ambient sounds around the Tarragon Theatre to good effect. Audiences usually have to ignore the occasional passing locomotive and endless boxcars on the real train tracks across the street. Here, the clackety-clackety noise becomes the performance's serendipitous sound effect. firstname.lastname@example.org