Saturday, 21 July 2012
Shhhh tickety, tickety dum
We have had the best evening in a long time. Weeks ago we saw adverts for a travelling open air production of The Railway Children to be performed by Heartbreak Productions at Wimpole Hall, our local National Trust house. I put off buying tickets, and thought I had made the right decision earlier in the week when the rain was sheeting down and parts of our village (including the school) flooded - which just Doesn't Happen in this part of East Anglia. My mood was as dark as the clouds overhead and frankly I just wanted to stay in bed and hide under the covers. The end of term school barbecue was postponed because nobody felt like sitting for three hours on a damp blanket shaking a fist at the sky and cursing.
But then today dawned bright and sunny and we decided that, blow it all, we were going to have an adventure. We packed a picnic. We set off early to Wimpole and joined a long queue and worried that we might not get in ... but we did. And oh, I am so glad we did.
I have strong memories of seeing the Railway Children on film as a child, and I have read it to my children and played them the audio version on long summer car journeys but nothing comes close to the experience of seeing it on stage. The few glimpses I had of the audience on the other side of the station platform showed they were just as spellbound as we were. The set was astonishingly clever, the cast were funny and touching, and the audience joined in with making train noises, holding up bunting and at one point donating part of their picnics as presents for Mr Perks' birthday - my shy little girls jumping up eagerly to give away their chocolate swiss rolls with the rest. As the night grew darker and the birds finally quietened down, the stage shone in the darkness of the garden while Bobbie uttered the heartbreaking "Oh, my Daddy, my Daddy!"; small children were clutched tightly in the arms of their parents and many of us could be spotted wiping away tears.
If the Heartbreak Productions tour comes anywhere near you I urge you to go along. If you were ever a child, and if you have even half a heart, you will have a magical evening.