On our recent trip to London we had to take the girls to see CBeebies favourite Justin Fletcher playing the role of Mr Perks which was his last appearance in the Railway Children. The show was fantastic and captured the children’s attention from start to finish as E. Nesbit’s well-loved tale is brought to life.
This is the fourth time that the Railway Children theatre show has visited London since it was adapted from E. Nesbit’s classic novel in partnership with the National Railway Museum, York and directed by Damian Cruden.
The Railway Children is set in a 1000 seat purpose built theatre complete with real railway tracks and platform just behind Kings Cross Station.
As you enter the foyer of the theatre it sets the tone for the rest of the performance. It has been built in the style of an Edwardian railway waiting room with piles of battered suitcases and bunting left around the foyer.
As you enter the theatre via one of two entrances named Platform 1 and Platform 2 the railway track sets the centre stage with the two platforms either side as seating for the audience.
What is great about this theatre is because of its unique layout with people sitting along the edge of each of the platforms, there are no bad views, as nearly every seat is close to the action on the stage.
Before the show the cast walk around the audience with an informal meet and greet. The girls loved speaking with the cast members and shouting and waving at Justin. It’s this personal interaction with the cast that really integrates you into the performance before the story has even began.
The staging is just magnificent as the moving stages that the actors stand and walk along above the train tracks are cleverly moved by stagehands who seem to double as railway workers throughout the story.
The Railway Children is such as great story, based on three children who leave their comfortable upper class lifestyle in London and have to relocate to the Yorkshire countryside with their mother after their father is mysteriously taken away. During this time they really struggle to make ends meet but the children explore friendships and adventure through the characters they meet such as Mr Perks, the stationmaster and with the Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train.
The story is told through the memory of the Railway Children – Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis which allowed the story to be played brilliantly by adult actors (Felicity Houlbrooke, Jack Hardwick and Louise Calf, respectively). The show is played over two halves of around an hour long, with an interval.
The girl’s favourite character was Phyllis who they said was so funny. Mr Perks was also a favourite and gave a great final performance.
What was great about having Justin Fletcher in the show especially from the girls perspective was that during the interval, he balanced a broom on his chin which got a rousing applause from the girls and the rest of the packed audience.
The sound effects and lighting are cleverly crafted and helps you to use your imagination especially during the atmospheric tunnel scene created by two black curtains drawn along the track.
At the end of the first half there was the first appearance from the 60-tonne vintage locomotive which was star of the show. This was William Adams Express Passenger Engine No 563 steam train that arrived majestically along the railway tracks into the middle of the stage.
This was an enchanting moment and seeing the girls sit open-mouthed and wide-eyed as this magnificent steam train and its carriages appeared inside the theatre was just fantastic.
Don’t miss this amazing show. Although it was over 2 hours long the show was so well done, engaging and easy to follow there was never any chance of my children (aged 5 and 8) getting bored, they loved everything about it.
Even if you don’t love theatre you will love The Railway Children, even my husband who prefers sports to the theatre loved it. It’s a show that both adults and children will enjoy and will be like no show you have seen before.
The Railway Children, at King’s Cross theatre is a show and runs until 8 January 2017. For more information visit www.railwaychildrenlondon.com
It is worth noting that if you travel to London by train you can use your train tickets to get 2 for 1 entry into the Railway Children via the following link