The heart of drama is action and conflict. We go to movies, to the theater and to the hastily revamped spaces that provide Fringe productions with workable settings to see something happen. The problem with Trey Tatum’s The Midnight Express is that, although it reflects serious action that has resulted in the two somewhat damaged women of his play, we hear about the crucial situations rather than see them.
The staging is resourceful, and I am not sure when I have seen flashlights used to greater advantage. In the opening scene they are virtually the only light source and primarily illuminate the faces of the two actresses from below their chins, making each of these attractive women into something else entirely as they tell ghost stories. Another effective use of light gives the name of the play credence: At a crucial moment, the headlight of the titular Midnight Express train beams out with authority and shock. Another lighting effect evokes a magical moment near the end of the story.
Tatum Hunter plays anxious Cassie and Alex Roberts is Casey, distant and angry; their volatile relationship is gradually and emotionally revealed. Each does a credible job of portraying a young woman whose life lacks but needs assurance; each actress is making a place for herself in Cincinnati’s theater scene. Both are products of the theater program at Xavier University.
Director Bridget Leak is a presence across the local theater scene as well. She's married to the show's prolific playwright and their co-owned theater company, Queen City Flash, is the presenter of The Midnight Express.