Skip to main content

Review of The Railway Children at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise that The Railway Children from Looking Glass Theatre was an awfully old fashioned and really rather quaint show. I know that at some point in the dim distant past I saw the original film version (all Jenny Agutter and "Daddy" etc), as I think definitely every one of my age will have seen that. However, the fact that of the audience, staggeringly only three were children suggests a little to me that the audience was either family and friends of the performers, or older people reminiscing over the story they remember from their younger days.

I have to confess that I didn't remember much of the story ahead of seeing it, however, this adaptation from James Smith (who also directs) based on the Edith Nesbit original brings the story and characters to life in a compact seventy-minute version. As has been common from recent years, the cast is formed from recent graduates of University of Northampton BA Actors course, all familiar to me (with one exception of Natalie Částka as Mother). This, of course, means that the whole cast is generally the same age, so challenges them from the outset to portray the multitude of characters age ranges.

As the children, and wonderfully likeable each of them, is Jenny Watson as Bobbie, Penelope May as Phyllis and Connor McAvoy as Peter. Their skills learnt on the course are well used and they create believable younger representatives of themselves. Jenny especially creates the role made famous on screen by Agutter her own and adds a surprising amount of character that at culmination reminds you that the story is quite an emotional one really.

The other end of the scale and tasked with the older roles are Natalie Částka and Hans Oldham. Hans is especially good in his multiple older roles. His Old Gentlemen turn was, in particular, a great little creation, full of the love and tenderness required for such a lovely old chap willing to help all.

Completing the cast and very much in his element of clowning is Lewis Hodson. There is no point in often pretending to be something else as a performer perhaps and Lewis has clearly found his niche, and I can't help but think it will in time take him far. Right from long before the play begins, he is pointlessly doing his station portering job through the church and adding crazy climbing antics into the bargain. Later as the "Russian" he continues to add silliness (coupled with crazy wig) into the piece. Playful, amusing and just plain daft, he is once again great.

The set from Paul Beasley is a typical touring one and more than adequately does the job, even if it at times shows is ricketiness when the cast is moving full sprint. That coupled with some nice music from Ian Riley makes a nicely pleasing, if simplistic play, very well performed. It will be quite fascinating to see if the much bigger budget version heading to Royal & Derngate later this year offers the same amount of charm.

½


Performance reviewed: Saturday 31st December, 2016 (matinee) at St. Peters Church, Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton.

Details of Looking Glass Theatre can be found on their website at http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Touching The Void at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For those unfamiliar with this story, this review tells more than you might want to know ahead of seeing it. So, the short review for those who don't know the story of Joe Simpson, go and see this play and then come and read this review if you wish.

Staging the 1985 tale of Joe Simpson and his somewhat unbelievable, if it wasn't true, escape from surviving three days without food and water, a 150 foot fall previous, and following breaking his leg a previous, previous, seems an insurmountable challenge, but with the clever work of writer David Greig, director Tom Morris, and designer Ti Green and the rest of the creative team, we manage during a long and pulsating evening of theatre to reach that peak.

Following a short sequence of flashes of what is to come, we join Simon (Edward Hayter), Richard (Patrick McNamee) and Sarah (Fiona Hampton) at the wake of Joe Simpson, imagined for the stage and a neat way of introducing us to the story. Here Sarah, Joe's sister becomes the …

Review of the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Graduate Showcase at Leicester Square Theatre, London

The Graduate Showcase was pretty exciting even for me, so heaven knows how it was for the actors actually taking part. Here I was in a gathering of around twenty people (all others infinitely more important than me) at a special closed event at a West End theatre, complete with free drinks and buffet. Fortunately I had Mr Jim aka @mudbeast76 to keep me on the straight and narrow of juices after the one alcoholic one went straight to the head drink. Then as if it wasn't a surreal world as it was, there only goes and walks in Lukewarm himself, Christopher Biggins!

However, this isn't about me, this is about the thirty six ultra talented individuals who after I have followed them for a bit over a year are about to venture forth into the big competitive world of the acting community. They have though the double advantage of not only coming through the excellent three years University Of Northampton training and also being rather talented to help them in this.

This being my first s…

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…