RAILWAYS evoke memories – memories of journeys, arrivals and departures, meetings and partings, new adventures and old routines. Leaves On A Line, the new touring show from Forest Forge, draws on all these strands and motifs in a multi-layered play with music. It is touching, funny, exciting and thoughtful.
There are fragments of traditional fairy tales, serious thoughts about who we are and where we come from, songs and anecdotes, vivid pictures, questions about art and culture and a mystery that slowly unfolds.
In essence, there are two stories, set about 20 years apart, but inextricably interwoven, performed by three talented musician-actors. Both stories are set largely in a disused railway station in Hampshire, where Liz (Madeline Brolly), a historian whose father was the station-master, lives in the old station house and runs a heritage project. Liz’s son Tom (Ed Sheridan) was mad on model railways as a child, but is now approaching a future in which he has to decide whether to take a gap year and what to do with his life.
Kat (Leonie Spilsbury) is a successful and famous artist, who has lived in Japan for many years. She has come back to unravel a dark secret from her past. Her journey, which is partly expressed through a new series of artworks in an exhibition in London, leads her to the old railway station.
There are echoes of Cinderella, The Red Shoes, lost children and children swapped as babies – ancient memories wrapped up as fairy stories that still haunt us in the 21st century.
The stories unfurl – like leaves – through letters and memories as the characters follow the tracks of their lives back to the points where they may have crossed.
Playwright Dinos Aristidou writes in the programme about how real-life stories, letters and memories from the wider community of Hampshire all helped to create this fascinating and moving play, directed with sensitivity and imagination by Forest Forge’s artistic director Kirstie Davis.