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Train Journey by Broken Word Productions | Review

Train Journey by Broken Word Productions
Train Journey by Broken Word Productions

A brief and abstract piece of theatre, Train Journey is one of those stories where the train becomes a metaphor for life itself, where there are differing opinions as to what course of action should be taken next. Time and again, there are moments of aggression and/or confrontation, almost to the point of becoming repetitive and expected. There are no character names in the play, other than the role of Conductor, which changes between the seven-strong cast, leaving the others to assume the roles of Passengers.

The backdrop of a train journey brings with it aggravations relatable to rail passengers in the audience – all those automated and mostly unnecessary announcements being one example. My personal favourite, which may or may not have featured in the cacophony of messages being relayed to the Passengers, is the instruction to ‘stand behind the yellow line at all times’ with an emphasis on the last three words, technically meaning that one can’t actually board a train, ever.

The various scenes raise far more questions than they answer, and in that regard, the show is as light or as heavy as a member of the audience wants it to be. It cleverly has both literal and figurative elements to the same events – for example, when someone wants to get off the train but is prevented from doing so, this does happen when trains skip previously scheduled stations in order to maintain some sort of timetable, forcing some passengers to double back to get to where they are going. But when that same character says he is going to work, the conversation with the Conductor seems to suggest that working nine to five in a corporate job is not necessarily the only way to make a living.

On one level, there’s some absurdity to this production. In what reasonable circumstances does a train conductor question why someone is going to work? There are a lot of narratives and themes brought out with such rapidity that it is, at the risk of sounding terse, almost an attack on the senses.

That is, of course, what a train journey can be like, with various conversations going on between different passengers and members of staff at any one time, and so the production succeeds in portraying elements of railway travel despite the restrictions of live staging. There are neither roller skates, as per Starlight Express, nor projections of a train carriage, with sound effects heavily relied on to create atmosphere instead.

While what occurs to some of the Passengers is not entirely (if at all) fair, this again is indicative of the world in which we live. At least they weren’t forced onto a replacement bus service – I would very much prefer a production that whizzes by too quickly than one that plods along, stuck in proverbial traffic. An intriguing show with food for thought.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
A Journey on the train takes an unexpected detour.
A Passenger finds himself trapped on a Hellride through the borders of reality, as everything about his life is brought into question.
A Conductor desperately tries to keep his train from unravelling at the seams and to control the one person who could tear everything apart.
Travel with them through time, space and the regulated station stops.
Go back to when the rules were made and when they were broken.

#TakeTheTrain
Twitter: @brokenwordpro
Web: www.facebook.com/brokenwordproductions/

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