I’m ashamed to admit that I have never read the book, nor even seen the film The Railway Children, so my review has to be from a complete blank canvas.
What I do I know is that The Railway children is a well-loved tale, made famous by the 1970’s movie. It’s a story about a family whose life gets turned upside down when their father mysteriously disappears, forcing them to leave the comforts of their privileged life in London, in exchange for a very basic existence in Yorkshire.
Annoyingly I was distracted at the start due to a technical difficulty. An annoying buzzing sound from above the stage made it almost impossible to hear the characters. However, once that was overcome, I was able to concentrate and follow the story of the lives of three children called Phyliis (Katherine Carlton), Peter (Vinay Lad) and Roberta (Millie Turner) who moved to the Three Chimneys cottage with their Mother (Joy Brook), while they waited for their father (Andrew Joshi) to return – little did they know that he was actually in prison.
The play was rather charming and easy to follow, as we watched the children make a new life for themselves after meeting Perks (Stewart Wright) the railway station manager and his son John (Callum Goulden). Their morning routine was to visit the railway line daily to wave at the old gentleman on the 10:15am train as they patiently awaited their father’s return. The relationships they made along the way were simple, the kind of relationships that teaches us about life, as we make contact with different people along our journey.
There were strong performances throughout. I thought Roberta/Bobby was very strong indeed, and Phyliis and John did make me burst out with laughter on one occasion. I thought the stage was very affective, and the use of a large video screen made the railway station seem so very realistic.
All in all the play was charming, rather like a bedtime story. I am convinced families will enjoy this play as an outing, although it didn’t pump me full of adrenaline as a musical would. I left feeling relaxed and ready for bed, with the warm feeling that I now finally know the intriguing story of The Railway Children.
The Railway Children runs until Sunday 5th November 2017 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.