Jennifer Decker plays with fire.
Jennifer Decker plays with fire.
Carole Kelly

Stranger on a Train

Have you heard the one about the arsonist, the Kafka scholar and the famous detective on a train to Auschwitz?

Neither had we, but leave it to the folks at Mildred's Umbrella to come up with a play based on such a wacky configuration of characters. Co-authored by John Harvey and Greg Dean, Tomorrow Morning makes its debut this weekend.

On the train, "two waiters have particular arguments with history that they begin to get the passengers caught up in," Harvey says. One of the waiters espouses a theory of holocaust revisionism, while the other, says the playwright, argues that "the only way the tourists could actually visit Auschwitz -- to actually know what it is -- would be to be lined up around a hole, shot in the back of the head and pushed in."


1415 California

8 p.m. on Friday, April 16, and continues Fridays and Saturdays through May 8; for information, call 832-418-0973 or visit ella. $15.

And that's when the play becomes a trip. "There's a particular dish served on the train that ends up leading to hallucinogenic experiences -- where the passengers create their own murder mystery and then try to actually carry out and enact it," says Harvey, who, by the way, isn't the same Jonathan Harvey as the Fan Factory guy. (This one's John, the Mildred's Umbrella guy.)

So we've got a bunch of strangers tripping on a train, searching for the lost history of the holocaust and the answer to a mystery. "It's as if you took a murder mystery, cut it up, put the pieces in a box, shook the pieces together and then reached in," says Harvey. "Everything starts folding in on itself."

This looks like a job for Inspector Viper, played by Harvey. "If there's going to be a murder mystery," he says, "of course there's going to be a detective." And if it's going to be a piece of avant-garde theater, of course there's going to be a lot more weirdness, like, say, a lounge singer who just so happens to have a pair of seraphim-like wings.


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