Cowan plays a middle aged Irish widower whose life has gone topsy-turvy after his wife's death in a traffic accident. The guy can't sleep, or function by day. He ends up confessing to a therapist that his wife is still appearing in the family home.
"I was just going into the living room, and I went over and put on the lights, and when I turned around, she was standing there behind the door, looking at me."
The freight train, incidentally, isn't part of the show - the tracks are just outside the theater.
"-and I mean, she was there, and she was real . . . It's unbelievable, I can't describe it."
I immediately pigeon-holed "Shining City" as one of those shimmering, mysterious Irish ghost stories - and to a degree, it is.
But this play morphs in other directions, too, and each scene includes a surprising disclosure. Through gnarly conversations, Cowan and fellow actor Kevin Karrick reveal lives overwhelmed by closely held secrets, temptation and regret. Infidelity emerges as a theme - in fact, all four characters in this moody, intensely wordy play dwell on it. The take-away here is to be very careful what you wish for. Because you just might get it . . . and it will come at a cost. This compact 90-minute show offers a glimpse into the darker side of desire, that an Irish playwright, steeped in a fine literary tradition, can handle in a very distinctive way.
The B Street Theatre production of "Shining City" continues through February 5th.