Review: The Railway Children at Groundlings Theatre

Image courtesy of Groundlings Theatre.

Purbrook resident Rosalie Cuthbert reviews the Groundlings Theatre production of E. Nesbit’s famous novel.

How did you spend your Easter Sunday afternoon?

It was a beautiful sunny day but I decided to escape the heat in the cool environs of the Groundlings Theatre, which was transformed into a railway station for a superb musical performance of The Railway Children.

This classic story, written by E Nesbit, tells the story of three children, Roberta (known as Bobbie), her younger sister Phyllis, and their brother Peter, who live with their parents in a comfortable family home with servants. The children’s lives are changed when their father mysteriously disappears, and they are forced to move to live in relative poverty near a railway in the North of England. The children have some adventures and befriend Mr Perks, the Station Master and a wonderful old gentlemen who waves to them from the train.

The show is directed by June Merrigan who really gives the children a chance to shine through the production. Three teams of children play the heroes of the story, each taking a different day, and this afternoon Bobbie was played by Sydney Whiteland-Smith. Her performance shone as this young actress has the perfect stage presence and a beautiful singing voice. Younger sister Phyllis was played by the ‘cute as a button’ Bonnie Swarbrick, and Peter by an engaging Alastair Hayes.

Other performances of note include Lynda Saunders, who has a multitude of smaller roles but plays them all with comic effect and John McLaverty, who excels as the Doctor and a lovely old gentleman who befriends the children. Last, but certainly not least, is Tim Skelton who plays the friendly but at times irascible Station Master, Mr Perks.

If you are looking for a show that leaves you with the feel good factor, then this will have you wanting more. With a life-size steam train on stage, and a model railway running round the audience, this show is not to be missed.

Make sure to book your seats for the remaining performances now.

The Railway Children runs until Sunday 28th April at the Groundlings Theatre, with evening and matinee performances available on different days. Check the website for details and tickets at The Groundlings Theatre or call the box office on 023 9273 7370.

Poster courtesy of Groundlings Theatre.