Leaves on the Line, theSpace @ Surgeons' Hall, Review

The DULOG company in Leaves on the Line
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
DULOG - Durham University Light Opera Group
Evie Press & Constance Froment (music & lyrics), Imogen Usherwood (the book), Ollie Fabb (orchestration, conductor), Alexandra Hart (director), Evie Press, (associate director), Jennifer Leigh and Matt Bourne (producers), Joyanne Chan (assistant producer), Harry Clipston & Amy Rettke-Grover (technical directors).

Olivia Jones, Georgia Malkin, Issey Dodd, Harry Allderidge, Evie Press, Matt Bourne; Orchestra: Ollie Fabb, Joshua Brooks, Rosie Stewart, Catherine Howells, Carolyn Leung
Running time

“The journey, not the arrival matters.”  T. S. Eliot

Imagine the scene – Kings Cross Station packed with a mad melee of commuters and lost tourists - Bing bong, ‘the train about to depart from platform...’

A chorus line of travellers race for the train, singing in unison, ‘After the day has tossed you around, I’ll find my way back home,”  each one partnered with a wheelie case in a whirling and high flying waltz for a lively opening sequence.  

This is the 15:00 train to Edinburgh (Edinbraaa, barks an aristocratic lady, it’s really far – Scotland!), and on board we shall meet a disparate bunch of passengers: an ambitious actor, a backpacking hill climber, a weary mother after work, a runaway teenager, a singleton looking for love, as well as a carriage full of other cool and quirky characters all the way. 

Sound effects are spot on with mobile jingles, voicemail messages and train announcements. The timid, tongue-tied Conductor is the least confident public speaker, but at least he’s honest when the lights go out. ‘We shall be on our way shortly, hmm, ...probably,’ well portrayed by Harry Allderidge.

The evocative, eloquent musical score performed by the excellent live band flows along smoothly with the rolling rhythm of the train, picking up pace for high speed jazzy ensemble routines and then slowing down for quiet melodic solo numbers.

“My agent is looking for someone tall” sings the sweet, petite Olivia Jones in a charismatic performance of My Dream, an emotional ballad with echoes of Cosette's song In My Life, in Les Mis.   A memorable, magical star turn.  

With a pile of props, hats, scarves, here are sharply observed comedic sketches with LOL quick witted humour, imaginative characters and amusing story lines segueing between harmonious songs.

Invidious to pick out a few from the super slick cast, but Georgia Malkin with the deep tone of voice like Marlene Dietrich is a real hoot, and Issey Dodd as the passionate booklover wistfully recalling,  “I wanted to be a writer like Austen or Enid Blyton.’

In 2019, the Fourth Wall company from Durham University staged Ladies who Lunch (5 *), a brilliant debut play by Niamh Collins. Once again a group of Durham students showcase extraordinary talent as writers, composers, directors, musicians, actors and singers.

The train is frequently a dramatic setting from nostalgic love stories (Brief Encounter) to grisly murder (4.50 from Paddington). So step on board the 3pm from Kings Cross for a most entertaining, endearing, romantic musical adventure for these strangers on a train following their hearts and dreams. “Your journey ends with the open door”.

Showtimes: 14 – 20 August @ 13:00

Ticket prices: £10 (£7.50)

Suitability: 12+