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Review: The Railway Children at Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
07 Apr 2016
by Dani Wozencroft

You don’t get the usual buzz of going to the theatre when it’s a matinee performance and you’re effectively watching a DVD.

As I sat down to watch The Railway Children at Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, the first thing that struck me was the lack of atmosphere – it was a big screen, not a stage, and no one clapped or waved when being encouraged to do so by the actors. There wasn’t even applause at the end.

But actually, on reflection I had been transported to another time and place for the afternoon.

After sitting in the Walker Theatre on a rainy Wednesday afternoon during the Easter holidays, I got home feeling like I’d been all the way to York and experienced the Railway Museum all over again (the last time I’d been was three years ago).

It was a film of the play as performed at the National Railway Museum in the summer of 2015, I was engulfed in the story. We experienced things that I think others in the museum at the time may have missed, a nod, a wink or a certain act that the cameras knew to pick up whilst being there you may not have seen.

I can’t help but think that I may well have missed other things though – the tight camera angles mean there could have been many more nods and winks that we actually didn’t see.

And I longed to be there, in the museum, seeing the crew move pieces of wood up and down a railway track as the stage.

Watching a film of a stage play doesn’t have the same impact, but it is clearly an effective way to bring a ‘one off’ performance to the masses or maybe a hit London West End show to the market town of Shrewsbury, I would certainly go again.

As for the play itself, it was an insightful adaptation of the classic novel. Speaking to the audience directly at times – ‘make sure you don’t miss this’ and ‘you’re going to have to use your imagination here’ – the characters flitted back and forth into the scene itself. Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey, Beth Lilly and Izaak Cainer portrayed Bobbie, Phylis and Peter spectacularly. Each were a joy to watch, bringing back memories of the classic film.

And perhaps my day was made even better by the trip we made of it. Having taken the afternoon off, my friend and I went to The Foundary restaurant located on the second floor of the theatre beforehand. At that point the sun was glistening on the river as we watched out the window and tucked into our lunchtime sandwiches. It was a lovely place to relax and grab a bite of truly appetising food before heading ‘to York’ for the afternoon.

Beth Lilly, Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey and Izaak Cainer credit Anthony Robling

Michael Lambourne as The Old Gentleman credit Anthony Robling