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The Titfield Thunderbolt

Sarah Ogley, Rikki Lawton, Clive Flint, Amy Christina Murray and Harry Gostelow in The Titfield Thunderbolt. Photo: Stephen Wolfenden Sarah Ogley, Rikki Lawton, Clive Flint, Amy Christina Murray and Harry Gostelow in The Titfield Thunderbolt. Photo: Stephen Wolfenden
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The transfer of a much-loved film classic from screen to stage should never be undertaken lightly. Happily, Suffolk Summer Theatres engineer this transfer with style and a great deal of wit.

To capture the full scale of the story the six cast members don’t just double up, they triple and quadruple the number of parts they play. Unfortunately, director Mark Sterling is tempted to have a little too much fun with the format and allows the cast to step out of the play during the second half, acknowledging that characters can’t re-appear because the actors are busily playing someone else.

While the audience love being in on the joke, it might be better if the director kept faith with the play and played it straight as Sterling displays a lot of ingenuity in the staging of this Ealing classic.

The set is a real team effort pooling the talents of Alan Horne, Ian Sheward and Maurice Rubens. They not only produce a full length station platform, which spans the width of the stage, but hinged sections open out to reveal the interior of the vicarage and the local pub.

The piece de resistance is the realisation of a moving train, which in a makeshift theatre is a minor miracle.

It’s a great ensemble show with lots of energy. Harry Gostelow, Amy Christina Murray and Clive Flint really relish their multiple roles, conjuring up a dazzling array of distinct characters at the drop of a hat.

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Verdict
Ingenious transfer of a British screen classic that captures the spirit of a bygone era
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