A Night at the Theatre – Journeys (London & Edinburgh Festival)

There’s a mad rush to pack, struggle through traffic and crowds, and make desperate attempts to understand the muffled station announcements – the crush to get on board,followed by fighting for a seat…the tale (and travail)of travel, as old as that of Ceasar and Cleopatra, Hamlet or – only ideally with a lower body count. It is certainly something we all experience every weekend, or every day simply by commuting, doing battle with public transport and all its idiosyncracies.
Everyone is on a journey somewhere, and in this play (almost) without words we follow an artist, a soldier, an actor and a housewife as they travel across a war-torn landscape. We get to see their backstories, why they are on the train, and what they are leaving behind – or running away from. Something we can all relate to in one way or another – whether escaping the pressures of work, hardship, failed relationships, or seeking a new life, new opportunities, new faces.
It is very much a period piece, with a definite Spanish feel to it which at first made me wonder at first if it were set during the Civil War – only the sound of marching boots at a certain point suggested the conflict of a decade later. The atmosphere is convincingly created, with a sense of nostalgia, home-sickness, and tension as well as humour and drama, and I was particularly taken with the creative and imaginative use of folding chairs as both props and sound effects.
Journeys is full of vitality, energy and fun, brimming with mischief, murder and mayhem, and to a degree, a homage to the silent era of films – in parts reminiscent of Jacques Tati, even down to the garbled station announcement which could have been taken straight from Msieur Hulot’s Holiday. It is also a fairly short piece, roughly an hour long, and felt ultimately like the introduction to a much greater story – one waiting to be told. There are layers to it, with the suggestion of more to be discovered than appears on the surface.
The Tristan Bates Theatre itself is a fun place to experience a play in : in addition to a handsomely-sized theatre space, it hosts a large bar area with comfy sofas and masses of books; rather like the play itself, in that it is actually bigger on the inside than it seems on the outside.
I hope anyone who is going to the Edinburgh Festival will find time to take a peek at this one, and I look forward to seeing it on stage again soon – perhaps with a sequitur on the further adventures of the four travellers involved. have fun everyone, this is one whacky ride!


More information at the Buckle Up Theatre website and/or

The Gilded Balloon (also for booking online).