Sunday, 8 September 2019

1 part PVA: 4 parts water

"You know, if they didn't have the model train, they wouldn't have gotten the idea for the big trains." 

And so to the theatre. I have been to see LipService ("The Laurel and Hardy of literary deconstruction" according to the Guardian) perform their new show 'Strangers on a Train Set'. This piece spoofs a whole series of train related films, although - presumably deliberately - not Hitchock's 'Stangers on a Train'. The parodies were framed by the concept of model railway enthusiasts demonstrating their layout, with the small figures that they placed on the table acting out the scenes and even in the end developing a level of self-awareness. And speaking of self-awareness, it was, shall we say, interesting to sit in an audience which was laughing at the idea of sad middle-aged men who seek to escape real life by recreating a world in miniature and by engaging in debates about the accuracy and authenticity of their models. I consider myself fortunate that I don't know anyone like that.

Peter and James realise the infantry's buttons are the wrong type of brass

It was all very funny, with non-anorak targets including 'The 4:50 from Paddington', 'Brief Encounter', knitting and the blue colour of energy drinks (apparently the secret ingredient is woad). I did wonder if one or two of the jokes weren't perhaps too niche for a general audience. There is a scene in which a character who has been bashed about by a rooftop chase along the train is removed for running repairs and then finds himself clutching a paintbrush much larger than himself and complaining that he mysteriously smells of varnish, which I found very amusing, but seemed to baffle my companion for the evening. Even more arcane perhaps was their take on 'The Railway Children'. According to them the landslip which causes Jenny Agutter to wave her underwear about was caused by the modeller using the wrong ratio of PVA glue to water and the cat litter therefore not sticking to the side of the hill properly. We've all been there.


  1. Ah ! Jenny Agutter - she had a problem retaining her clothing in her early films !