The only thing better than the books that come with this job are the trips that come with the books that come with this job. Last night, my three-year-old daughter and I headed over the river to Waterloo for their marvellous production of The Railway Children (read it! Here! Or here! Or even here!). Imagine my joy on realising that the whole thing is staged on the old Eurostar platforms! CUE FLASHBACKS. Most of the signage is still there, but the escalators are boarded over, the walkways don't move and the passageways are empty. Yes. That's right. Post-apocalyptic heaven.
I was in total delights. I kept saying things like, "When I was little, back before this world changed so much, this was how we used to get to the city called 'Pa-ris'", but she wasn't buying it and just asked why the moving walkways weren't moving. I told her she was a ridiculous child of the twenty-first century and she should use her legs while we still had them (before the robot overlords confiscated all limbs). With the appropriate scene set (sort of) we stepped back in time to the early twentieth century ("Are we having a picnic?" "No, they're props." "What's a prop?" "Oh man, this is going to take some time.") and to a traverse stage dressed so marvellously, I started crying. Hurray! I've finally turned into my mother.
It was the first time my daughter had been to the theatre (I know, and her a south west London kid, too) so I was nervous that she'd spend the performance kicking the seat in front with boredom or stage-whispering questions to me at ten-second intervals. Then the cast came out and waved to us all (yup, crying again, this time at their lovely costumes) and the play began. I'm sure you all know it – siblings, railways, best station master EVER, Russian writers, awesome feminist mother, some prisons, some children-in-nausea-inducing danger, ending to make all the adults cry. (Yeah, you know what that link is. And I am in no way crying again after watching it.)
Highlights included: a boy in the row behind us explaining to his sister that when the train travelled past Leeds, the family was going "to the Poorhouse"; Roberta's birthday song; the fact that my daughter didn't say a single word for the two-hour run time. Come on, tough parenting! I knew it would pay off eventually.
If anyone finds themself in the Waterloo area and fancies both a terrifying glimpse into the future when the relics of human civilization are echoing wastelands, and a wonderful children's evening at the theatre, I couldn't recommend this more.
Sam the Copywriter
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