I loved Departures’ railway-themed set the minute I walked in. If you ignore the ‘mind the gap’ warning on the platform, it looks just like a scene from an old Agatha Christie movie. It’s even complete with a white picket fence, through which you can just about see the very competent live band playing.
The action started as soon as we began entering the auditorium, with actors arriving at intervals onto the imaginary station platform. And once all eight characters were in place, the songs began. The inevitable train delay allowed time for each character to tell their personal story, to the audience and of course, to each other.
The songs came thick and fast, and in the main were catchy and toe tapping. The company proved themselves to be sound singers both together and in solo pieces; some of the harmonies were quite lovely to listen to. Musically they covered a number of different styles, and there was a fabulous number involving pretty much the whole cast in true barbershop fashion.
The young company were enthusiastic and lively throughout, playing their parts with an earnest conviction. But although this was a nice idea, I grew a little weary of the idealism that swept over every character, culminating in the grand finale. The ending was all just a little too perfect, a little too cheesy. It would be more interesting to see one of the characters be brave enough to turn down the fairy-tale-style ending; the piece as a whole would benefit from some variation in energy.
So maybe this production wasn’t quite for me, but it was clear that the audience appreciated it very much. The moral of the story is sound, and the company are quite right in what they say. We are favouring technology over real human connection, and the world does indeed look a very different place when we look up instead of down at our feet.
And I was left thinking, as I made my own departure, wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if every station platform was as happy a place as the one I’d just witnessed. An uplifting thought indeed.