Visit London Blog » waterloo station Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Railway Children Return to Waterloo Wed, 13 Jul 2011 09:06:41 +0000

I’m no trainspotter but I was excited to return to the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. Fond memories of day trips were supplemented by curiosity about this unique production of E Nesbit’s classic tale.

The Railway Children first came to Waterloo last year. Positive reviews and an Olivier Award followed. It’s back until 4 September.

I wasn’t disappointed – The Railway Children is innovative whilst oozing nostalgia and charm. I agree with much of Jenny’s original review.

Asking around the audience, I discovered someone who’d also seen the show in 2010. Her feeling was that the already good show had been refined and was better than ever. There’s also new cast including comedian and broadcaster Marcus Brigstocke as Station Master Perks. However, for me the star of the show remains Stirling Single, the 60 tonne steam locomotive which makes its spectacular entrance at the end of the first half.

Note to parents: the mums in our group felt that the show was not suitable for young children. There are some loud and potentially scary moments. I’d say 7 and above to be on the safe side although the recommendation appears to be 5+.

Railway Children is at Waterloo Station until 4 September

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The Railway Children at London Waterloo Station Tue, 13 Jul 2010 10:35:32 +0000

Last night I went to see The Railway Children staged in the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station.

I loved the 1970s film as a child so the play had a lot to live up to.

The play is staged in flashback, with the grown-up children, Bobby, Phyllis and Peter reminiscing about how they became The Railway Children.

This has the advantage of allowing adult actors to play the children – and they do a good job, with Nicholas Bishop scarily childlike as Peter.

And using flashback acknowledges that most audience members will already know the ending of the story. So the focus of the play is more about how events happen (and for me, how they manage to stage them) then the end itself.

The staging was the most exciting aspect of the production. The audience were seated on two platforms on either side of the train tracks and the action took place in between.

Smoke, lighting, sound effects and moving platforms were all impressively used to create “trains” speeding along the track.

And of course, the big draw of this production is a 68-tonne steam train, the Stirling Single which chugs majestically onto the stage.

I couldn’t help comparing the play to the film, as I know it so well. So how did it measure up?

I thought the stage version captured a lot of the charm of the film but at times it was a bit too twee (too much tally-ho, “you’re a brick” type dialogue). And although it’s aimed at children, the audience don’t need to be asked to use their imagination at particular points in the play (we’re in the theatre, we’re already using it!)

I also wasn’t keen on Caroline Harker‘s portrayal of Mother. In the film, the mother was firm and “proper” but kind. The play didn’t manage any of that warmth and most of Harker’s dialogue involved her shouting at the children not to cry or ask questions.

But despite that, I really enjoyed The Railway Children. The inventive staging coupled with the unusual location make for a great night at the theatre.

If you do go, make sure you get there a few minutes early as there’s a miniature train (which children can ride in), an exhibition of photos from the film and information about The Railway Children charity in the foyer.

The Railway Children at Waterloo Station until 5 Sep 2010. Book tickets

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Thursday Theatre News: Fela!, Ditch, and Broadway Stars in the West End Thu, 15 Apr 2010 18:00:35 +0000 I’ve learnt about two exciting new London shows this week: the Broadway musical Fela! – about Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – comes to the National Theatre in November this year; and Ditch, which comes to the tunnels under Waterloo Station next month.

The first, Fela!, comes with a pretty impressive pedigree: associate producers on the project include Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Written by Tony Award-winner Bill T Jones it tells the story of the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the Nigerian-born artist, musician, polygamist, commune founder and political activist, who died in 1997, through a winning blend of jazz, funk and African rhythms, dance, theatre and music.

Ditch is a new play by Beth Steel, and is being co-produced by HighTide in the Old Vic’s  Tunnels 228-332 under Waterloo Station. It tells of a near-future Britain where much of the country is underwater. The government has been reduced to a group of fascist fighters, and dwindling numbers of men patrol the moors for “illegals” in a rural outpost of the state. Ditch is the first of the Old Vic’s tunnel-based plans for 2010, which also include productions, installations, pop-up events and film screenings, with tickets either free or pretty damn cheap.

Americans are celebrating lots of success on the London theatre scene at the moment. After all the top reviews the Broadway revival of Hair got earlier today, it’s more good news from across the pond: an all-American cast for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Paradise Found. The new musical is based on Joseph Roth’s novel The Tale Of The 1002nd Night, and is about the exploits of the Shah of Persia. The Tony Award-winning Mandy Patinkin is joined by more US names: Kate Baldwin, Shuler Hensley, Judy Kaye, George Lee Andrews (The Phantom Of The Opera, A Little Night Music), Lacey Kohl, John McMartin (Grey Gardens, Into The Woods), and Nancy Opel (Toxic Avenge, Urinetown).

In a more British show, A Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky at the Lyric Hammersmith features three of the UK’s finest writers: David Eldridge, Robert Holman and Simon Stephens. It’s a show about the family secrets that are revealed before the world comes to an end… Cast member Jemma Redgrave has sadly pulled out for personal reasons, but the cast remains strong. I really like Nigel Cooke and Ann Mitchell, and it’ll be good to see Harry McEntire back on the London stage after his appearance in the hit musical, Spring Awakening.

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