The Fastest Train to Anywhere Review
All aboard for a magical realism mystery tour. Like all journeys it starts with a small step, but unfortunately for our lost traveller his impulsive embarking of a train going somewhere has led him to the wrong destination. This is the fastest train to Anywhere - although as it turns out it’s not exactly fast nor very direct.
Clearly struggling with his emotions he explains that after he has been through his diary for the day, beyond the numbers, dots and scratches, he should routinely be going home. But on this otherwise unremarkable day he finds himself in the oasis of a strangely quiet train carriage, as removed from home as he can be and getting farther away with every passing mile.
The journey will also take him away from reality, through mythical and literary landscapes inspired by Swift, JM Barrie, L Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll (to name but a few). It’s a trip that’s compellingly related by Luke James in a monologue that occasionally sparkles with descriptions of fantastical scenes under night skies, but eventually its caboose full of references causes it to run away. We don’t learn enough to really care about or understand the narrator and the plot seems overly simplistic in comparing fraught urban life with the rural idyll.
At points it feels like there might be something dark and gothic developing but it becomes transcendental - what Edgar Allan Poe might have described as “mysticism for mysticism's sake”. Equally it doesn’t meet its Swiftian allusions by allowing the encounters to hold up a satirical looking glass to human nature. What it does demonstrate is the power of imagination embodied in fiction and what happens when we dream a little beyond our commuter’s swathe of dormitory towns.
There seems to be room to refine the production further (at 40 minutes it arrives 20 minutes ahead of schedule). Added sound design and improved lighting would also help. As it stands it’s a pleasant return trip but it’s not a first class ticket.
Show Times: Runs to 12 August; 3.00pm
Ticket Prices: £8.50 (£6.50); 6-7 August 2 for 1