Show review by Julia Pattison: The Railway Children at Hull Truck Theatre

Christmas Show: The Railway Children (until Sunday, January 2)

The Hull Truck Theatre Christmas show provides a fresh take on a much-loved story. Photo courtesy of Ian Hodgson

Venue: Hull Truck Theatre

Review by: Julia Pattison

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It was all aboard as E Nesbit’s classic story steamed into Hull.

Mike Kenny has revisited his award-winning adaptation alongside composer John Biddle to include original songs as part of the show.

The result? A fresh take on a much loved story, and reinforcing a message we all need reminding of; the importance of kindness and compassion.

Directed by Mark Babych, who worked his magic along with his talented cast and creative team ,bringing a unique Hull Truck twist to this classic tale.

Having been spoiled by seeing Mike Kenny’s original adaptation of The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum York, and being awestruck by the dramatic appearance of The Great Western Railway Pannier Tank Loco 5775 emerging magnificently in a shroud of steam, I was curious to see how Hull Truck were going to present that iconic moment… more about that later.

David Fallon was absolutely spiffing in his role of earnest Peter, and Gina Jamieson was perfectly cast as big-hearted Bobby, the caring sister who carried a lot of responsibility on those young shoulders.

Both actors played it wonderfully straight, allowing Robyn McIntyre to shine in her role as impetuous younger sister Phyllis; she was delightfully ditzy and got a lot of laughs for her antics.

Some excellent multi-roling, as you would expect from Hull Truck; Claire Storey brought comic fun to both her roles as Cook and Mrs Viney, with Daniel Reid-Walters bringing gravitas as Mr Schepansky, and warmth as Jim, as well as being a brilliant Butler.

Guy Burgess was the epitome of kindness and compassion in the roles of Doctor and Old Gentleman and Kate Hampson clearly demonstrated her versatility as an actor playing the roles of Mother and Mrs Perks.

Niall Costigan stole our hearts in the roles of Father and Mr Perks, particularly when making the dramatic entrance as Father when Bobby cried out with the heart-wrenching words we’d all been waiting for: “Oh! My Daddy, my Daddy!”

Let’s not forget too, the contributions of Katie Norris and Sophie Bevan (Ensemble/Swing) and the delightful Young Company Team, who came into their own in the musical numbers and touched hearts in the hare and hounds scene.

In a specially constructed theatre space Ciaran Bagnall pulled out all the stops to ensure the action ran smoothly; look out for a show stopping moment at the end of Act One.

His lighting design was magnificent as was the sound design (Mathew Clowes).

The rollicking musical finale was a perfect ending to a magical show, with some timely lyrics sending you back into the outside world with a much-needed smile on your face.