The Railway Children at King’s Cross
Site-specific theatre is more the norm than the exception nowadays, so the latest stage adaptation of the much beloved Edith Nesbit novel, The Railway Children, which takes place on an actual train platform in King’s Cross, is very much in tune with the times.
Damien Cruden’s production, which premiered four years ago at the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo, is now bigger and better. It’s housed in an impressive set of purpose-built tents behind King’s Cross station, encompassing a split traverse stage through which trundles a show-stopping, full-sized Victorian steam engine.
Beyond the obvious glitz and gimmicks, the show remains a remarkable feat of theatre. Acclaimed playwright Mike Kenny’s brilliantly nuanced script brings to life the tale of three children forced to move to rural Yorkshire with their mother, after their father is dubiously imprisoned for espionage.
The source of numerous adaptations, including the popular 1970 film directed by Lionel Jeffries, The Railway Children endures as a compelling coming-of-age story that is refreshingly non-saccharine. Serena Manteghi, Jack Hardwick and Louise Calf, playing Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis respectively, helm a first-rate cast that includes Jeremy Swift (of Downton Abbey fame) as the endearing Mr Perks.
Creatively staged across a set designed by Joanna Scotcher, with a magnificent score composed by Christopher Madin, and enhanced by Craig Vear’s enthralling soundscape, this is a truly immersive production. Everyone from the ushers to the stagehands is in character, and even the foyer has been made to look like a turn-of-the-century railway station. The excitement this generates for an unsuspecting audience is more on par with going to Disneyland than to the theatre.
But the magic isn’t just for the audience – midway through the show, when an enthusiastic child shrieks with joy, the entire cast and audience briefly devolve into giggles, proving the irresistible charm of this dazzling production.
The Railway Children is on at King’s Cross Theatre until 6th September 2015, for further information or to book visit here.