This was the show that first brought Jonathan Rhodes and Mitch Jenkins together. Commissioned by a children's theatre in Ascot, near London, for a production in April 1993, it also brought Charlie Frank into the picture. Both he and Mitch were Acting Stage-Managers in the original show. Following a successful run in Ascot, the three of them had the crazy idea of taking the show to the world famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe and so The Realistic Theatre Company was born. Adapting the script from the famous children's novel "The Railway Children" by E.H.Nesbit, Jonathan kept all the favourite characters in his adaptation of this great story. Mrs. Waterbury and her three children, Roberta, Phyllis and Peter, forced into moving to Upper Teesdale in Yorkshire from London, following the arrest, wrongly as it turns out, of her husband. Arriving in the peaceful village, the children have a impact on the area, which once had had a thriving tin mining industry. Saving a train full of people from disaster following a land slide onto the line, as well as rescuing an injured boy from in front of a train are just two of the adventures that happen to them. Carrying on the theme of people wrongfully imprisoned, Jonathan concentrates on the plight of Mr. Szczepanski, a Russian émigré fleeing his country after being persecuted for his beliefs. The family befriend him and take care of him until the Old Gentleman re-unites him with his family, as the Old Gentleman also does with the Waterbury family. The music, played on tape, was orchestrated by Tim Ellis of TimelessProductions. This allowed a full orchestra sound to be used in conjunction with amazing sound effects, also designed by Tim, for the company. Mitch's tunes are catchy but, where necessary, are also very moving. Caribbean rhythms rub shoulders with Wagnerian style passages, along with romantic interludes which all adds up to a wonderful score. The overall effect can be heard again this year, as Realistic, celebrating 6 years on the Fringe, return to the glorious days of steam travel, with a new production of "The Railway Children".
WHAT THE PAPERS SAID
"..conjured up the almost physical presence of an express train.." Bracknell News, April '93
"The three Railway Children played with commitment and sensistivity..'" Times Educational Supplement, August '93
".. well delineated performances..the performers are convincing and charming."
The Scotsman, August '93