Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Charles finds himself at a rural railway halt, far from his usual station on his daily commute from the smoke. Why is he there? Who is this woman asking him all these awkward questions? What does she want? Why is she there?
Charles is a lawyer because, well…..he’s a lawyer. His life consists of waking, going to work on a crowded train, writing colourless memos to his colourless clients, coming home on a crowded train, trying to avoid contact with his neighbours in his colourless suburban flat, going to bed and then repeating the process. Day after day. Week after week. And he’s only 27. Trapped. A life of dullness, order and routine.
So how does he find himself late one summer’s evening at a rural railway halt, miles from his usual station? And who is the young woman who has just approached him? She’s beautiful, engaging and genuinely interested in him which is pretty unusual – Charles doesn’t normally merit a second glance from girls like this. Why is she asking him questions, questions that he finds uncomfortable at first, questions that he sometimes can’t answer? Why does she apparently know so much about him already when they’ve never met before? Curiosity may be the elixir of life, but she does seem to have an insatiable desire to know everything about him. Yet why does she answer his questions with a question?
Slowly, inexorably, Charles begins to yield to the seductive figure before him, pouring out his troubles, fearful that his train will arrive to take him back to normality or another will arrive to spirit her away. Her train comes. She doesn’t board it. Why? Makes you want to hold your breath.
More questions. More answers. More tension. Tears. Who is this saintly figure that is so interested in Charles? And then she’s gone.
Compellingly written and exquisitely performed, this new work from Paul Booth, who stars in the production with the gifted Claire Reid, creates mystery and intrigue as the story unfolds. Sympathetic direction, adept use of silence and almost perfect delivery and intonation ensure that attention never wavers, words are never wasted.
This is a strong piece of theatre that merits attention. In fact, I can see that the train’s waiting at the platform right now for you. You’ll have to run for it though, so hurry. It departs for the last time at 11.25 this Saturday. And don’t forget to breathe.