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REVIEW: THE FLETTON RAILWAY CHILDREN

Eastern Angles Theatre Company are staging their new play THE FLETTON RAILWAY CHILDREN at The Undercroft at Serpentine Green Shopping Centre. ESP’s Marc Hernandez went along to take a look…

Did you or your parents/grandparents grow up in Peterborough in the 1960s? Then you won’t want to miss this nostalgic theatrical trip back in time as Peterborough plays a starring role.

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Based on the E Nesbit classic, acclaimed author and Playwright Julie Mayhew uses Peterborough (her childhood hometown), her grandad’s and father’s memories of working on the Railways at Peterborough East and the stations around the city to add authentic local flavour. The play weaves real-life local and national events around the familiar plot-points of The Railway Children literary book and the memorable film adaptation.

Now set in 1962/63 a family are uprooted from London to Peterborough during the last days of steam rail travel and learn to adapt to their new surroundings based at Lincoln Road railway barracks.

I’d never been to The Undercroft before, but what a fantastic theatrical space this has been turned into, and with further plays guaranteed for at least the next two years this is a very welcome performance space that Eastern Angles should be congratulated for.

The young cast of Liane Harvey (Bobbie), Lily Howkins (Cheryl) Lewys Taylor (Peter) and Charlotte Ellen (Phyllis) under the direction of Poppy Rowley keep the audience captivated throughout and there are some nice touches that really engage the crowd, particularly in the third act.

Another key element to this lively experience is the set which revolves to become a multitude of well known city locations.

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On what must be a very small budget Fiona Rigler’s set design really stands out and transports you back to the 60s with ease. Meanwhile the imaginative use of lighting effects enhance both the actors interactions and the scenes they inhabit.

There’s a childhood playfulness throughout as battered suitcase are upturned to become bicycles with coat hangers as handle bars, and squabbles over props that break the fourth wall. But the seriousness that the children are facing with a seriously ill mother and wrongfully imprisoned father are both lent a wistful melancholy by the cast especially Bobbie.

Remember the actors names and where you saw them first. These are future stars of big budget West End shows and lavishly staged Sunday night television costume dramas. But before all that you can see them underneath the food mall and a building society office at The Undercroft at Serpentine Green!

Performances run until the November 5. Book now on www.easternangles.co.uk or call the box office: 01473 211498.

Marc Hernandez

Photos: Mike Kwasniak.

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