Brighton Fringe 2011
Extremely intimate performance by historic Brighton inventor in a vintage railway carriage. Free gin – and the show’s a tonic!
There’s only room for about 8 people as we step into a vintage railway carriage to be joined by Brighton’s very own Magnus Volk – inventor and engineer. Volk invented the electric train, the electric car and arguably most memorably, the "Daddy Longlegs" – an ocean-going carriage on stilts. He wants to emulate Brunel and claim his place in history. The council have other ideas and decry his ideas as unlikely to succeed – we are his board of directors and his task in these few minutes is to persuade us to resurrect his sea-going train – with further financial (and emotional) investment. A complimentary gin and tonic from sponsors Hendricks lubricate the proceedings nicely.
This is an intimate 20 minute encounter – a little dash of theatrical caviar to tickle the tastebuds and quite satisfying in its own right. Michael Adams’ Volk is intense and credible – we can easily believe in his drive to succeed, like so many of the Victorians, completely unafraid of the huge challenges before him. It takes only a few moments for him to settle into his persuasive self – from then on we are all willing to join his journey.
There are lovely touches: Volk breaks off to talk to one of his children through a window; a "board member" unfurls and holds up a technical drawing of the sea train while Volk illustrates its benefits, or refers to a sepia photograph to tell how he sold an electric car to a Turkish sultan. The event is packed with incident and Adams eye-contact, sensitivity and pace ensure we don’t miss any detail.
Skillfully facilitated and directed by Nick Brice, this is a delightful piece, which avoids the pitfalls of "edutainment" and leaves you keen to find out more about this ingenious and enthusiastic inventor. A little gem.