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Theater Review: 'The Train Driver' -- 2 stars

Simon Ritchie Coster and Leon Addison Brown in

Simon Ritchie Coster and Leon Addison Brown in "The Train Driver." Credit: Simon Ritchie Coster and Leon Addison Brown in "The Train Driver."

The Train Driver
2 stars

I really wish I could be more enthusiastic about the Signature Theatre Company's three-part tribute to Athol Fugard, which comes to a close with "The Train Driver," a bleak Beckett-style drama directed by Fugard himself.

The renowned South African playwright, who has dedicated much of his career to tackling the chilling effects of apartheid, is known primarily for his masterful play "Master Harold ... and the boys."

Much of Fugard's other work can be repetitive and excessively didactic.

The first two Fugard dramas produced by Signature were boring. And "The Train Driver," in spite of a striking and intimate production, marks the end of a disappointing trilogy.

Inspired by a news article about a mother who stepped onto a train track with her children and was killed by an oncoming train, the 90-minute play is set in an expansive, seemingly apocalyptic graveyard.

A poor black man (Leon Addison Brown), employed to bury bodies on the site, is joined by an emotionally tormented white man (Ritchie Coster). It turns out that he was the unfortunate train conductor, who is now ravaged with guilt.

Very little action occurs besides some hints of a mystery, bonding between the characters and lighting changes. The lighting gets so dim that you might even be tempted to fall asleep - if you haven't already.

If you go: "The Train Driver" plays at the Pershing Square Signature Center through Sept. 23. 480 W. 42nd St., 212-244-7529,

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