poster

The Railway Children
by Edith Nesbit
adapted for the stage by Mike Kenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synospis

Set in and around a country railway station at the turn of the twentieth century, the plight of the railway children grappling with their new environment is imaginatively brought to life for a modern audience while losing nothing of the original spirit of humour, tension, adventure and the final triumph of good over evil.

Cast

Bobbie ( Roberta ) ------------------------------------ Johanna Grace
Peter------------------------------------------------------- Dave Perry
Phyllis------------------------------------------------------Jennifer Dorian
Cook------------------------------------------------------- Christine Holliss
Butler ---------------------------------------------------- Bob Pamplin
Maid------------------------------------------------------- Tanya Macpherson
Mother----------------------------------------------------Lucy Elliott
Father-----------------------------------------------------Richard Holliss
Perks------------------------------------------------------David Reed
Mrs Viney------------------------------------------------Rose Floyd
Doctor---------------------------------------------------- Mark Simons
Mrs Perks------------------------------------------------ Suzanne Macpherson
Perks children------------------------------------------ Mary Peat,Joe Morgan,Felix Shotter,Lucia Spanec
Old Gentleman----------------------------------------- Chris Millington
Mr Szezcpansky--------------------------------------- Simon Billig
District Superintendent----------------------------- Richard Holliss
Worker 1------------------------------------------------- Bob Pamplin
Worker 2------------------------------------------------- Tony Mohammad
Jim--------------------------------------------------------- William Tennison
Ensemble------------------------------------------------ Louis Dodge,Jay Shotter,Felix Shotter,Joe Morgan, Evan Reader,Tom Roberts,Toma Spanec.Emilia Ashton Ana Reader, Lucia Spanec,Luke Arnold Elaine Elliott,Christine Holliss, William Tennison

Stage crew........................................................ Stephen Macpherson, Bob Pamplin, David Mason, Tony Mohammad, Phyl Bakers, Mark Ashton
Produced and Directed---------------------------- Michael Philips
Stage Manager--------------------------------------- Sally Peat
Costumes----------------------------------------------- Christine Fryers and Christine Holliss
Set Constructed-------------------------------------- Dave Mason and Bob Pamplin
Music and Sound effects-------------------------- Chris Millington and Richard Holliss
Publicity--------------------------------------------------Terry Perkins
Special thanks Harlow Playhouse staff, crew and Technical team.
Colour Consultant Colvins Ltd Walthamstow E17 3HX
Children provided by Waltham Forest youth Theatre

Reviews

The Railway Children
Global Productions
Harlow Playhouse
19th-21st February 2016

Having already seen Mike Kenny's London production of Edith Nesbit's perennial children's favourite The Railway Children (complete with full-size steam engine), I never imagined for one moment that any modestly sized drama group working on a smaller budget could possibly do it justice. Yet, when 'Bobbie' bravely stopped the approaching train in Global Productions' version of the play at the Harlow Playhouse, the audience gasped in amazement.

This dramatic scene was made all the more believable and breath-taking, not only because of the fine performances from the actors playing the three children, but the combination of atmospheric lighting, an extremely convincing looking steam locomotive and the ear-splitting sound effects of shuddering pistons and hissing steam.

But then this excellent production was never in danger of been shunted into a siding, thanks to Michael Philips thoughtful direction and the splendid ensemble casting. The story - for anyone who has never read the book, seen the famous 1969 film version starring Jenny Agutter, or caught Kenny's original sell-out production - relates what happens when a middle class Edwardian family are forced to give up the comforts of their semi-detached suburban villa, and settle instead for a run-down cottage in the village of Oakworth in Yorkshire.

While their mother works hard to make ends met, the three children: Roberta (Bobbie), Phyllis and Peter make the most of their time in this rural hamlet, by befriending the local station master Mr. Perks and waving to the London-bound trains that pass by on a daily basis. There are also plenty of adventures to be had, including the reuniting of a Russian dissident with his family, a paper chase involving an injured schoolboy, a special birthday party, a spectacular presentation and a terrifying landslide.

In Kenny's version, the script calls for the actors playing the three 'railway children' to double as both on-stage narrators and characters in the story. Most of this responsibility falls to the eldest child Roberta, who is played here with great sensitivity and tremendous stage presence by actress Johanna Grace. Dave Perry is very impressive as her brother Peter, and brings just the right amount of enthusiasm and child-like innocence to the role, while Phyllis (an energetic performance by Jennifer Dorian) is wonderfully inquisitive and very funny.

The three leads also have strong support from Lucy Elliott, who is supremely confident in the role as their mother, while David Reed is superb as the likeable station porter Mr. Perks. The one character who turns out to be the children's saviour in so many of their adventures is the Old Gentleman; a wonderfully avuncular performance by 'Global' stalwart Chris Millington.

Unfortunately, we haven't room here to mention all the other splendid performances in this accomplished show, both on stage and behind the scenes. But with the sumptuous costumes, the highly detailed set, the wonderful steam train, the excellent choice of music and the impressive auditorium of the Harlow Playhouse, this is definitely one production that deserved a much longer run.

And as for the emotional climax of the play, in which Roberta and her father are reunited, I can vouch for the fact that there wasn't a dry eye in the house!

Bill Andrews.