The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek 

Naomi Wallace's class- and history-conscious plays (One Flea Spare) have been widely acclaimed; she even got a MacArthur genius grant. This 1999 piece, set in Depression-era Appalachia, had me wondering why. Maybe it's the mystery plot, unpredictable only in its particulars. Maybe it's the inescapable echoes of the 1986 film Stand by Me, with its pop-cult lock on trestle-related drama, or the cartoonish Odets-esque concern for the "common man." Or maybe it's the clumsy expressionist moments when characters figuratively and literally touch. But Wallace here seems amateurish, and her well-intentioned yet unconvincing script primarily a hurdle for the actors to overcome. The rough-edged but talented Thunder & Lightning Ensemble responds passionately, but only Ed Schultz and Debbie Ruzicka get anywhere near meeting the challenge. --Brian Nemtusak a Through 7/22: Thu-Sun 7:30 PM, Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, 773-332-9939, $15.

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