“ Play of the well known novel, performed at Waterloo Station with real steam train! „
The hit production of E.S Nesbitt's classic story is currently paying a return visit to the old Eurostar platform at London's Waterloo station, where a theatre has been set up on the platform to enable the production to make full use of the now redundant tracks.
Originally this was shown at the National Railway Museum in York and last year made its London arrival. After a small break it returned to London in June and is playing once again to young and old taking them on a journey through the lives of three siblings, Bobby, Peter and Phyllis. Their perfect London life is turned upside down in the beginning of the play with their father, an important civil servant, gets caught up in a scandal, which leaves him facing prison and the rest of the family no option but to go and live in the country. Their lives in the country is a lot more basic than they are use to, but they soon make friends with the local station worker Perks, and begin to be caught up in the magic of the railway. Every morning they wave to the train and get the attention of a kind old gentleman who they later rely on for help, when a Russian author comes to stay with them. Over time the gentleman's help becomes invaluably and his part in the eventual conclusion of the story (which I won't give the game away, but have tissues handy!) is crucial.
This acting in this production is good and though I normally find adults playing children and bit cringey, they were very good. Marcus Brigstock the TV comedian and currently just finished the tour of the Monty Python Musical Spamalot plays a very good Perks and the form "Bill" Actor Stephen Beckett also gives a good performance of both the children's father and the countryside doctor.
As much as the story is a classic and the actors put in a good performance it is the staging which impressed me the most. The staging is themed as though we were sitting on a country station platform with the actors interacting with the audience before act 1 and 2 as if we were waiting for a train with them. The props to indicate that we were in a house scene were wheeled in and out on the actual track, making excellent use of the tracks. But the most impressive bit and perhaps the bit that got more cheers than even the actors, was the use of a real steam train blowing its steam and whistle and being used to great effect. You could see everyone's faces, young and old light up when the train pulled in on more than one occasion.
This production is great for young and old and will no doubt be full of families enjoying time together during the holidays. It is a bit of a walk from the main entrance to the actual platforms so get there in plenty of time as they like to have you seated in plenty of time. Obviously transport links are good, with both the nearest tube, and mainline station being Waterloo/Waterloo East. Prices from £22.75-£49.75. Check http://www.railwaychildrenwaterloo.com/ for more details.