“At Journey’s End” by 3 Legged Dog Theatre
Guildhall Theatre, Derby.
Guildhall Theatre, Derby.
Eddie Lawrence is waiting on an abandoned railway station on the Yorkshire moors. But he is not alone.
Hoping to communicate with the spirit of his girlfriend who died at the station fifteen years ago, he finds himself unwittingly entangled with a group of Victorian ghosts. They believe that they are waiting for the line to be repaired in order that they can continue their journey to America and a new life.
This is a very clever piece of theatre and it's the writing and directing that credits the audience with intelligence and gets them, like me, to ask themselves questions, all of which I must say are answered in the second act.
Mark Jennison-boyle and his dad, Terry took 25 years to bring this story to fruition and to the stage, but it's a wonderful story that is not just about a haunted railway station in Prospect Valley in Yorkshire, it's also a love story with a wonderful twist at the end.
It's also a musical with all of the music written by Mark. The music is haunting with hints of Irish folk, which compliments the fact that one of the characters, Brodie, is Irish. There is a CD of some of the music featured in the musical on sale as well, which I would recommend getting a copy.
Directed by Damon Hatton, which I know is immensely proud of this work, and so he should be. I sat next to Damon last night and his love of this piece was evident.A real labour of love which shone through the tight direction, and even though the musical is two and three quarters of an hour - with interval - it didn't seem to last that long. A real reflection of a piece of theatre that really captures and envelops an audience member. Damon also in charge of the sound and the wind and the rain sound effects gives an extra sensory dimension to the feel of the musical.
I've mentioned the wonderful music and this was all created live by a talented group of musicians under the Musical Direction of Charlotte Danieland arranged and orchestrated by Rob Upton. A beautiful compliment to some wonderful on stage vocals.
The set is evocative and designer, Richard Heappey gives us a rural railway platform for the action to be staged on with the out to the wings extension which he leaves to your imagination. Richard also has designed the lighting which also adds that extra sheen to the show.
Craig Gallimore plays Eddie who is looking for his late love and keeps returning to the platform. I have not seen Craig before and \i don't know if his accent is the one that is used in this production but I love the fact that there are so many accents used in this play. His acting is natural, which could be the result of him not having any professional training, but that makes him a comfortable watch. he also has a very easy on the ear voice which he uses with real emotion.
The Stationmaster Sam Henderson, is played by Kim Harris. Again a new name to me but has a wealth of experience in theatre. This shows as he also has a good singing voice. the Stationmaster though is one character that is keeping secrets, which are not revealed until near the end.
There's a Russian family, the Kaplans, played by Adam Guest (Professor Josef Kaplan), Sandy C Lane (Rosa Kaplan) and Mia Mitchell as the young daughter (Katryn Kaplan). The accents with this trio are really good and again there's a back story, once more with secrets. One of the strengths with this cast is the singing quality and this trio, together and solo are hypnotic. Mia, who I first saw in "West Side Story" has a voice that will have you falling in love with her, once you get past her gorgeous face.
Sandy, you will fall in love with her character, and her secret will come as a bit of a surprise, and again, what a voice!
Adam, may not be quite as good looking as Sandy and Mia, but boy can he sell a character. I've known Adam for a good few years now and have never seen him do a bad performance in anything. A very talented actor and singer and a boon to any production with his wealth of experience.
Yvonne Taylor, is again another actor I've not seen before, as far as I can remember, but as Ms Smith, the upper class lady, again laden with secrets which are only touched on in this production. Yvonne has a wealth of theatrical experience to fall back on and her ability to make me chuckle at some of the character's lines showed that she was able to show the comedy in Ms Smith's class and persona. You can deliver lines but to understand the comic element in what the character says, albeit being quite a serious statement, and deliver it in the way that Yvonne does can only really be acquired with experience. A lovely understanding of the character which bridged the gap between the serious Professor and some of the "lighter" characters.
Tom Stanley plays the Irishman, Brodie, and I don't know if Tom is Irish but his accent is consistent and has that lovely soft Irish brogue. if he isn't Irish, he made me believe that he was. A haunted character is Brodie who wants to travel to America for work. Brodie is a family man who has children back at home, and you will discover that his character has a lot of sadness attached, but I won't give away why. A fine voice and easy acting style.
Jeannie is the character who Eddie keeps coming back to the station to find. Played by Kat Adey, her voice is haunting, just like the character she is playing and her opening and ending song "Catch Me If You Can" will send shivers up your back.
Any new production excites me as you have nothing to compare it to. I was talking to Mark Jennison-boyle a few weeks ago about this musical, and he really fired my imagination up for this show, without giving anything away. Now that I have seen this production, I can't imagine anyone else playing these parts because the acting is of the highest quality throughout, as is the singing. Combine that with a wonderful eerie love story and you have a very classy production.
“At Journey’s End” is steaming through The Guildhall Theatre in Derby until Friday 6 April 2018 and I urge you to make sure that you have a ticket for this one.