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Boundary Players - The Titfield Thunderbolt

8th to 11th February 2017

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Chuffing good fun

Boundary Players look to Ealing Comedy for their latest show

Boundary Players: The Titfield Thunderbolt, at William Penney Theatre, Tadley, from Wednesday, February 8, to Saturday, February 11

Based on the Ealing Comedy film of the same name and set in the early 1950s at the time of the Beeching cuts, the plot of the play tells how the village of Titfield looks set to lose its rail link to the world and how the local vicar and landowner decide to run the railway themselves.

Directors Mary Robinson and Ann Bleloch struck the right notes with Philip Goulding's quaint, warm-hearted script with clever staging. After a lacklustre opening sequence and a slow build-up, the play came into its own in the second act, which proved to be huge fun. Overall, the charm and dated wit of the play were brought to life by the enthusiastic and versatile cast, most of whom played two (or more) roles, and all of whom were successfully entertaining in their characters.

There was a stand-out performance by Sam Walker as Lady Edna Chesterfield – the battleaxe with a heart – and other noteworthy portrayals were Mike Huxtable in his dual roles of Mr Blakeworth and Sam Weech, Emily Browne – excellent as Clifton, Joan Weech and Miss Coggett – and David White as the lush Mr Valentine and Vernon Crump. Andrew Smith brought warm mirth to his roles Harry Crump and Sergeant Wilson, both of whom 'took a shine' to the attractive barmaid Joan Weech, and Colin Webb delivered in every respect as the bucolic Dan.

Richard Mier gave a perfectly measured performance in his roles as Mr Ruddock and Mr Clegg, who made the right decision in the end to uphold the dreams of the village and let them run their own beloved branch line.

A very nice touch was the two char ladies changing the scenes (loved the dusting) and their very funny scene on the bus.

The various settings were cleverly depicted in an excellent set, with ingenious constructions and effects to depict the train itself, but if I have one criticism, it is that the costumes were not in strictly in period – these details would have helped set the scene.

However, I and the audience had great fun and thoroughly enjoyed yet another excellent show by Boundary Players.