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The Fastest Train to Anywhere
Published on Friday, 10 August 2012
2

2 stars

C venues - C nova (venue website)
Theatre
2-12 Aug, 3:00pm-4:00pm
Reviewed by Lynsey Martenstyn

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good, because this train is not stopping until Anywhere and doesn't actually take the fastest route there. Fastest Train to Anywhere is a monologue steeped in magical realism from an over-worked, suited Londoner, who deliberately boards the first train he sees, unaware of the destination. He is whisked through a dreamscape and back again, taking the audience with him. Written by the Artistic Co-Director of Belt Up Theatre, Alexander G Wright, the expectation heaped on this production was high but unfortunately, not met.

Luke James, who plays the stressed, suited protagonist, barely catches his train before it pulls out of London King’s Cross. He does not know its destination and does not have a ticket. The train conductor informs him of the train’s destination: Anywhere. He tells our shocked protagonist that it will take three months to get there.  

James holds the attention of the audience well, considering the scant staging. His fast tone of voice portrays a mixture of his anxious office worker exterior and his excitable inner-child, who is overwhelmed by the journey. However, it is sometimes so fast that the audience cannot pause to appreciate the lyrical qualities and poetic sentences in the writing. At its best moments, Fastest Train to Anywhere is captivatingly simplistic. There are many such moments, but between them it loses steam.

The poetic language, imagery and literary reference are more in focus than the characters. The latter are hackneyed and two-dimensional: the elderly woman who is rendered ‘invisible’, the cockney train conductor and the stressed protagonist could all be pulled from stereotypes. This conflicts sadly with the creativity of the language, which is anything but clichéd.

The piece is littered with literary references, without much reasoning as to why they are included. A one point, the protagonist does not recall a JM Barrie reference, so it’s not clear why they are incessantly featured. The dialogue is more beautiful without these constant reminders of other authors' works.

And in the end, the production teeters off – the imaginations become hurried and confused, and appear disorganised. Ultimately, the piece doesn’t arrive anywhere, or have a clear conclusion. The effect it like an over-zealous recollection of the dream you’ve just had. The monologue just isn’t quite enough to carry a show, and feels a little unfinished; it would benefit from some proper sound design, more thought to stage production and a stronger story.

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