The Railway Children – A Review

When I received the invitation to see The Railway Children at The Kings Cross Theatre, I was absolutely thrilled. It has been on my must see list since it opened for this current run almost two years ago!

I remember my lovely friend Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby went to the opening night and I was very jealous! I vowed I would simply HAVE to go see it as it sounded and looked so magical!

I almost went to see it once before but didn’t fully organise it. Now I think that was fate.

Fate, because this time, one of our favourite, much loved childrens’ entertainers, Justin Fletcher had taken over as Mr Perks and we were invited to not only see the show, but to meet Justin later for tea, cakes and chat!

the railway children kings cross theatre

My children have all grown up watching Justin in various CBeebies programmes. He’s not just for the very young as one of my work colleagues thought….. because my 11 year old daughter remembers his really early shows, like Higgledy House and Tikkabilla! Justin also appeals to parents too, as he’s become such a familiar presense in so many homes, over the many years he’s worked in children’s TV.

On Saturday, we arrived at the Kings Cross Theatre, which is tucked away behind Kings Cross Station, nice and early and eager to see the show. It’s a pop up theatre which has been specially created for The Railway Children. The land it’s on actually belongs to Google who very kindly loaned it to the production team for the duration of the run.

Once inside, we were intrigued to see that the ‘foyer’ is all decorated as an old fashioned railway station, complete with luggage, signage and paraphernalia. There are two doorways which lead into the auditorium… named Platform 1 and Platform 2. These dictated which side of the stage you sat on. The stage is a long strip inbetween the two seating areas.

the railway children kings cross theatre

The staging was very clever. Featuring a real train track… a beautiful 60 tonne vintage locomotive train makes an appearance a couple of times during the show which is truly breathtaking. The rest of the time there were stage hands almost hidden underneath, moving the blocks that filled the gap in the middle of the stage… where the story telling took place.

the railway children

Before the show started, the performers all mingled in the crowd, in character and full costume. It was at this point that we first spotted Justin Fletcher! My children were so happy to see him and couldn’t take their eyes off him! He was his usual bouncy, energetic self… he even discovered a child whose birthday it was in the audience and asked the whole audience to sing happy birthday to him! It was really lovely! My kids thought this was brilliant and clapped along excitedly!

The Railway Children is a heartwarming tale centred around three privileged children who have to move from their luxurious London home with their mother to a much smaller, run down property in Yorkshire after their father is taken to prison for something he didn’t do! The three children, Bobbie, Phyllis and Peter worry and care for their mother who is devastated for a while and initially doesn’t want to reveal much of what’s going on. But they also find lots of fun in playing down near the railway station, waving to passengers on the passing trains. They make friends with the porter, Mr Perks and embark on a lovely adventure of discovery and friendship.

The children in the show are played by adults, but it works so well. They share their story of how they became the Railway Children!

The Railway Children by Kenny,             , Written by - Mike Kenny, Director - Damian Cruden, Designer - Joanna Scotcher, Lighting - Richard G Jones, King's Cross, London, Uk, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

The Railway Children is NOT a musical. I just thought I’d mention that because when we were on the train home, I was chatting to an older lady who said she loved the theatre but hadn’t been to see The Railway Children because she didn’t really like musicals! Of course I told her that is wasn’t and she seemed surprised!

The show is very much as the book is written.. it’s quite serious in parts and I’ve been asked if it was a bit too grown up for my 7 yr olds.. but it wasn’t at all. There were some emotional scenes (I had a little tear at the end!) but there were many fun, laugh out loud moments and all three of my children were totally drawn in and mesmerised all the way through. They thoroughly enjoyed it…. so I think it had just the right mix!

The Railway Children really is a show for all age groups. A fantastic family show and we would highly recommend it!

meeting justin fletcher at the railway children

Casting Justin in the role of Mr Perks is genius. He played the part brilliantly. Meeting him afterwards was such a treat! He was extremely warm and friendly and said he was enjoying this new challenge working in the theatre on such a high profile London show. He will only be in it until November as he then leaves to do Panto, so you need to hurry if you want to catch him as Mr Perks! I also asked him if he was still continuing on CBeebies and he said he most definitely was. He loves CBeebies and says he has no desire to leave any of that behind just yet!

He was so lovely, and even accommodated my daughters’ request for a selfie with her….

selfie with justin fletcher

We had an amazing time! The show is utterly brilliant and of course seeing Justin in it and meeting him after was an added bonus!

The Railway Children – Live on Stage must end on 8 January 2017 – to book your tickets visit www.railwaychildrenlondon.com. BAFTA award–winning presenter, actor and voice-over artist, Justin Fletcher will transform from the much-loved children’s character Mr Tumble into the equally loved Mr Perks until 19 November 2016.

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