THE STAGE

Waiting for a Train

It’s a quarter to midnight in London. A businessman wakes up on the eastbound platform of Edgware Road Tube station and, as he talks to the motley individuals waiting for the last train home, we realise that he has no idea how he got there.

From here, balancing between comedy and drama, writer David R Thompson takes his plot to a clearly obvious destination, so there is no spoiler if I reveal that the Man was killed in an accident that morning and is waiting for his ride to the Otherworld. Less Bunuel or Camus but more Dickens’ Scrooge, various characters appear to help him clear up the mess of the life he has just vacated before moving on.

Directed deftly by Andy McQuade, as the harassed and confused Man Geir Kjelland holds the attention throughout, creating a most modern role whose office code refuses to let him to panic yet will not call a spade a spade. If there is one criticism, however, it is that he is just too nice to convey the character’s complex morals.

As his wife Jennifer, Fiona Doyle deals well with an underwritten part but needs to use her voice more efficiently. Meatier roles, however, are Peter Van Doorn’s “more than my job’s worth” station master Reg and James Jeffry’s drug-addled graduate Ian.

Thompson is admirably ambitious in the themes he tackles, for example, the dominant, probably Catholic motif concerning the tricky question of free will, but things get a little complicated by Act II. A couple of characters and their back stories need to be cut and there should be a change of station - Thompson’s platform layout for Edgware Road is incorrect and it is hardly commuter hell - this would all put the focus back where it deserves to be, on the Man’s final, sad acceptance of responsibility for his own acts.

Nick Awde