Walking into the lower theatre at HERE for Train With No Midnight you may have thought you were walking into a burlesque costume designer’s runaway train. Draped over instruments, figures, and seats with mousseline fabric add a layer of awe and mystery to the evening ahead of us.
Musically, we open with a delicate motif, swelling and swooning throughout the piece, bracing us for a journey. Both piano and keyboard were graced by Matthew Dean Marsh. Matched with smokey red lighting, we begin with the 2012 Apocalypse. Joseph takes us back to a time when the world was simple and assumed to end at any moment. Underneath this monologue, we hear a beautiful swelling of the opening piano motif soon joined by the violin, played by Lavinia Pavlish. As we fall into the disappointment of needing to continue to count time after the failed 2012 Apocalypse, we’re respectfully brought into the next movement with a xylophone solo. It was established that there would be no blackouts to the next moment; there was not going to be a complete orderly timestamp from message to memory to moment, but you would be guided through musically.
Joseph Keckler is a Brooklyn based writer, composer, and performer with appearances at Lincoln Center, Centre Pompidou, Miami Art Basel, and many other international venues. His appearances in PROTOTYPE consisted of mostly evenings, adding to his Midnight vibe along with his use of projections, synthesizers, and an impelling ensemble.
The percussion moved us from a march in Germany to a heartbeat lost in the discussion, lead by Michael Hanf. With this deep sultry tone Joseph delivers “Wo bekomme ich einen Cheeseburger?” which is “Where do I find a cheeseburger,” and you stay for the laughs but you came for the range. Joseph uses contrabass range to emphasize the diction and urgency in his Greek piece, but reminds us of his ability to use his middle, his “alternative rock” sound, as he comes back to English in his song reminding us that we can find hope and inspiration in all of our dreams (even the ones where we dream a tiny frog came out of our pillow, as he encourages us he did). We continue to explore his range as we learn about his breakup with his “partner”–this time with the calculated use of a few whisper tones, showing the depth of both his emotional spectrum and his vocal ability.
Train With No Midnight was both a visually captivating and musically diverse journey through a hilarious paradox I had never wondered: What happens when you actually don’t experience midnight? With live-sized rodents and amphibians, and the ability to give away the ending and still not give away an ending, Joseph Keckler, Matthew Dean Marsh, Lavinia Pavlish, and Michael Hanf brought the audience through time, countries, and emotions. The next time I take a train across the hemisphere, I’ll think of this piece and appreciate the good and the grief of life.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.