The Railway Children reviewed: A first class family show at the National Railway Museum

Beth Lilly, Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey and Izaak Cainer credit Anthony RoblingWhen I was little, my mum used to take me to work with her at the theatre. She’d plonk me in a seat in the stalls and I’d watch while she got up on stage and did her stuff with the actors. Even when she was off-duty she’d take us to shows – funny ones, silly ones, sad ones, adventurous ones. Sometimes, because she got muddled up, we’d see something different to what she thought she’d booked, so we saw a lot of grown-up ones and rubbish ones too. But we didn’t care – we just loved the whole experience of going to the theatre as a family. Of all the shows we saw together, I remember just a handful as being truly special. And now that she’s no longer here, the memories of those theatre trips are even more precious. If we’d seen The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum together, I’m sure it would have been one of those rare, memory-making experiences.
The Great Western Railway Pannier Tank 5775Each element of the show has been carefully crafted to make it unforgettable. There’s a spectacular set: take your seat on the platform in the purpose-built Signal Box Theatre and watch the action take place on and beside the tracks. There’s an impressive, perfectly-cast ensemble who deliver the playful, moving and funny script beautifully. The actors playing Bobby, Phylis and Peter are wonderful and keep the audience with them throughout the tales of their adventures. It’s a fairly simple story but the length of the show and some of the effects mean it’s probably best suited to children aged eight and over (younger children will find plenty to enjoy but may not quite get the detail). Supporting the cast is a magical musical score and some impressive technical and man-made wizardry that make you feel you’re seeing something epic. And did I mention that a real-life steam engine (the one from the original Railway Children film, no less) makes an appearance too?
If you’re looking for something memorable to do as a family in York this summer, see The Railway Children. Make a day of it with a trip around the museum and enjoy some of the children’s activities too. The kids will remember it forever and so will you.
The Railway Children runs at The Signal Box Theatre at the National Railway Museum, York, until 5th September – Tickets from £18 to £32.50 – book online

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