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The Railway Children
22nd August 2017 - 27th August 2017
The Railway Children
Adapted by Dave Simpson
E. Nesbit’s classic novel The Railway Children is brought thrillingly to life in a stunning new stage production.
This best-loved tale, made famous by the iconic 1970 movie starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins, delivers a compelling coming of age story and a fascinating insight into Edwardian rural life.
When their father mysteriously disappears with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are turned upside down. Forced to leave the comforts of their privileged London life in exchange for a simple existence in the depths of the Yorkshire countryside, this fractured family soon discover new friendships and an unexpected secret that will change their lives forever.
Complete with beautiful period costumes and ingenious designs, this new production promises an uplifting theatrical experience for all ages, packed with intrigue, adventure, joy and jubilation.
“Simpson’s adaptation is a triumph. Ideal for the whole family” Manchester Evening News
Price includes a £1 contribution to our heritage fund.
Production Photographs by Mark Dawson
Choice Radio Worcester
A treat for the whole family this week with a story which has been a favourite for well over a century. E Nesbit (that’s E for Edith, by the way) wrote The Railway Children whilst living in one of her childhood homes, Halstead Hall in Kent which, fortuitously, had a railway line at the bottom of the garden. It was, of course, most famously made into a film in 1970 directed by Lionel Jeffries and starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins and a new version ran recently at King's Cross.
This new touring version comes from the Exeter Northcott Theatre and the challenge to make it stage-friendly has been met superbly. Modern video techniques, model trains and an ever-changing set all come together seamlessly and are guaranteed to thrill children and impress adults. The story, set in Yorkshire, has many strands to portray – blunt Northerners and posh Southerners initially unintelligible to each other, the contrast between the poor and the well-off and the concept of sharing, Brits and foreigners – and these are all addressed via the locations in which the three children from London find themselves, the station and the cottage. The story is held together by using the station master Mr Perks (admirably played in true Yorkshire style on opening night by understudy Mark Starr) as the narrator with mother (Joy Brook) torn between keeping her children safe whilst their father is mysteriously away of secretive business.
The use of video techniques and sound effects and smoke is particularly effective and impressive, with seemingly life-size steam trains entering and leaving the station which really makes the audience feel that they are there. And the themes of kindness and community (particularly during the birthday present segment and the taking in of the foreigner) will resonate with the adults remembering maybe better times when this was commonplace.
One criticism is that the entire stage is not visible and those on the far left of the auditorium (and presumably the far right too) sometimes cannot see what is happening behind the large upright screens at the front of the stage (what was the text on the banners? No idea!) but overall, this did not detract from what is a thoroughly polished and imaginative re-telling of the classic story.
It is interesting to note that, in spite of the apparently complex scenery, it will all be hidden from Thursday onwards as the other show this week - The Tiger Who Came To Tea - will be on stage during the afternoons whilst over in the Forum, the Malvern Young Theatre are busy rehearsing Guys and Dolls - a busy week at the theatre!
The Railway Children was an excellent production and we were very impressed with the cast and the stage effects too.
What was also very refreshing to see was that there was no bad language or innuendo, just good clean entertainment for all the family to enjoy.
The play felt as if it ended abruptly but I would certainly highly recommended it.