This year’s seasonal family show (it is NOT a panto) at Hull Truck Theatre is The Railway Children. We were invited to the press night to go and take a look, and we are very pleased that we did. This is rescheduled from 2020 and I think we can forgive them as well, you know, pandemic and all that, and because it’s a gem of a show which is perfect family entertainment and could be their best yet.
One of the twins has been ill this week (not covid, we have checked. Twice!) so it was just me and the one for the show and we had our own mini adventure. We chose, fittingly, to travel to Hull Truck Theatre on the train – the station is about a three minute walk from Hull’s Paragon Station. On a cold, wet November evening we were glad of the proximity!
The Railway Children, directed by Hull Truck regular Mark Babych is a stage retelling of the classic E Nesbit novel. With the three children – Roberta “Bobby” Waterbury and her younger siblings Peter and Phyllis – now almost grown-ups, they look back over the time they had to move from London to rural Yorkshire while their family were undergoing a period of disruption, set in Edwardian times.
We hear about their memories of moving to Three Chimneys, and getting to know the staff and passengers of their local railway station. There are adventures with birthday parties, Russian refugees, and averted rail disasters. There’s a good mix of Edwardian genteel (Christmas themed) domestic activity, peril, and humour.
On stage, it’s difficult to recreate the story exactly – it’s tough to get a real train moving through the theatre but the premise of the play worked well for the theatre size, utilising rotating inner and outer stages, and asking us to use our imagination, which we did. The props and scenery as ever, spot on for the limitations of the space.
The acting was amazing. The ten year old was engaged throughout and didn’t mind having to use her imagination occasionally. It really is perfect for all the family. There’s not much in to upset younger children apart from the odd bit of mild peril. The baddest word in there is probably “romp”. Romp, you say? Yes, romp. There is a scene with a little bit of tobacco and that’s about it.
It’s not a panto but there are some well-placed local jokes, which are always welcome!
This is a great performance and it’s in contention for the best (not a panto) Christmas production we have seen at Hull Truck Theatre. Next year, it’s a Christmas Carol, so fewer trains and more ghosts. Can’t wait!
Here’s what the ten year old thought……
There are numerous opinions I had about the show. Mainly about the fact it went on until about 9pm so I had an excuse to stay up. I not only enjoyed it for the delicious ice cream but also for the fact that it had a lot of songs. I like songs because they can give me inspiration for writing my own songs. Although it had a lot of adult jokes that I did not understand. Overall I would definitely recommend for people who like theater and funny stories with a surprise. I would rate it a 9/10!
Disclosure – we were guests at the press night for the purposes of this review. All opinion is our own