Review: The Railway Children at The Victoria Hall Theatre: “A show of wonder, magic, laughter and tears. Perfect for Christmas for all ages”

Entertainment / Thu 21st Dec 2023 at 02:24pm

The Railway Children at The Victoria Hall Theatre

Adapted and directed by Simon Mawdsley

E.NESBIT’S book is quite rightly hailed as a “timeless classic” Lionel Jeffries’ film is also a firm family favourite that struck so many chords with so many generations. So to choose it as a Christmas play is pretty ambitious.

There are many challenges. One is space. One of the stars of the play is the rolling hills of Yorkshire but that is where the skill of a director such as Simon Mawdsley comes in.

This adaptation is an intimate, life affirming and joyful version of The Railway Children that is perfect in every way.

In many ways, the stars are the three children. Lucy-Jo Gladstone (Bobbie), Ruby Gladstone (Phyllis) and Peter (Jack Cook) were perfect. They made the roles their own. Lucy-Jo was such a strong character and leader, whilst Ruby stole the show with the malpropisms a plenty. Then there is Jack, whose enthusiasm reminded this reviewer of the recent winner of “I’m A Celebrity” (Sam Thompson). He was a. total joy!

But there were string performances everywhere and it is testament to the work that Simon Mawdsley and his team do at Victoria Hall that a lot of you people got a chance to shine. Whether it was The Cartwrights or the many members of The Perks family, they each carved out a character in their own right.

Let us not forget the adults. Jo Gladstone as Mrs Viney and Lexi Johnson as Miss Tibbs were just two examples of really strong female characters and they both, as they alway do, produced really fine performances.

We also appen to think that the Yorkshire accents were excellent especially the rendition of “On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at”.

Another strong performance was by Adam Thompson as the station master Mr Perks. Again,, a strong unfussy performance but impressive nonetheless.

That was the same of Dan Ricketts as Father and Jess Ricketts as Mother. These seasoned actors know how to be an integral part of an ensemble and rather than detract from the whole performance it is integral to its success.

We all know the story, we all know what happens but this production was still very emotional. There are so many parts of it that resonate with so many people.

And it is testament to everyone on stage and particularly backstage, that they were able to fill the whole theatre. Yes, that means they were able to have the landslip scene with train and a cross country race all within the confines of the compact Victoria Hall.

The applause at the end was warm and heartfelt. The audience absolutely loved it and we implore to try and get tickets.

As a journalist that reviews all year, we feel that the Harlow Playhouse pantomime and the Victoria Hall Theatre shows compliment each other perfectly.

This was a show of wonder, magic, laughter and tears. It spoke to so many people in 1905, 1970 and in 2023.

A beautiful five star experience.

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2 Comments for Review: The Railway Children at The Victoria Hall Theatre: “A show of wonder, magic, laughter and tears. Perfect for Christmas for all ages”:

Jim Thompson
2023-12-21 16:41:51

I wholeheartedly agree with this review!! A superb show that makes you leave the theatre feeling all warm and fuzzy, just right for Christmas!

Janette Heath
2023-12-23 14:07:20

Amazing show! Well done to all.

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