The Railway Children
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Set in 1905, this musical adaptation of The Railway Children has all the charm of Edith Nesbitt’s classic story.
It follows three children – Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis – who move with their mother from London to a house near the railway in the Yorkshire countryside after their father is wrongly accused of being a spy and imprisoned.
Adapted by Stephen Kingsbury and Ben Sleep and performed by theatre company Talking Scarlet, the production packs in a lot – showing the children’s relationship with comical station worker Mr Perks, the Old Gentleman who regularly catches the 9.15am train, a Russian exile who they care for, and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman who they help after finding him injured in a tunnel.
Complex themes of class, espionage, family, compassion and bravery are dealt with brilliantly in some heartwarming songs which give younger members of the audience chance to understand what life was like more than 100 yeas ago.
It’s just a pity the staging isn’t as complex – the rear projection is far too simple.
And, while Simon Turner does an admirable job, it’s far from convincing to see an adult who passed puberty some years before larking about on stage in his role of the young boy, Peter.
However, Sophie Holt gives a beautiful portrayal of a wise head on young shoulders as Bobbie; Mr Perks’ humour is played wonderfully by Harry Hart and Carly Day is brilliant as the mischievous young Phyllis.
The hard-working cast is the real credit to this family production.
Runs until Saturday.