Simple, quiet World War II era love story showing at Bas Bleu in Fort Collins

Last Train to Nibroc is a simple, honest and genuine play about a young man and woman who meet on a train at the beginning of World War II. The man has just been discharged from the military due to his epilepsy, while the woman is returning from a disappointing visit with her fiance on leave in California. It’s a crowded train, and the man finally finds a seat next to the young woman.

Written by Arlene Hutton in the late 1990s, this play is beautifully performed by just two actors: Liz Kirchmeier as May, and Galen Trine as Raleigh. There is no music or elaborate scenery, so all of our attention is on the couple and their conversation. Both actors do a wonderful job of engaging the audience – enough to make it feel like you’re sitting on the train seat behind them, eavesdropping on their conversation.

After May grudgingly allows Raleigh to sit next to her, it kicks off a love story that runs the length of the war. The two come to find out that they grew up in neighboring small towns in Kentucky. May is returning to hers, but Raleigh is taking the train all the way to New York City. There, he dreams of becoming a writer, much like recently deceased F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West — who are in the baggage car. Last Train to Nibroc 2

Directed by Steve Keim, the play runs 90 minutes with no intermission. The modest set consists of three different scenes: a train seat, a park bench and a porch rocker. The three locations serve as backdrop to the lovers’ story, as the two continue to meet through the years. May watches on as more and more loved ones are sent to war while Raleigh regrets that, due to his illness, he cannot be a part of it.

There’s some comic relief as the two playfully flirt with one another, but there’s more seriousness and sorrow in this wartime love story. Touching in many places, a bit slow-paced overall, it’s nonetheless a charming story about love. It may be that most familiar of plots, but the ways in which a chance meeting can alter the lives of two people so dramatically when Cupid’s arrow finds its mark, well, it’s always intriguing. And, as ever, Bas Bleu does a nice job not only by presenting less well-known works worthy of an audience but mounting them in loving fashion with just the right cast.

With many theaters busy with holiday shows right now, Last Train to Nibroc stops in a place that occupies our thoughts year-round. Perhaps it seems 1940 was a simpler time, but with the world at war and America itself on the brink of a new age, it’s a timely reminder that, dysfunctional as our own age seems, we don’t have a monopoly on tough times.