Dreams on The Train

The Train is the new production from imitating the dog, which premiered in an Italian version at Ancona in September 2015, and at Lancaster Arts (Lancaster University) from 21 to 25 January.  But you’d guess pretty quickly that it had a strong European influence.

You know, as you take a pair of headphones and enter the pitch black space, that you will experience this performance work with just eleven other people in a small auditorium that will physically move and rotate.  You know it takes 41 minutes to complete this journey, and in fact it is so well choreographed that it must take this length of time.  You know, as the curtain opens, that the actors are performing two feet beyond the wall of the chamber, in a railway carriage, and that the visual background is going to be good.  You know that the programme describes it as ‘part detective thriller and part philosophical meditation on loss and human isolation’.

Nevertheless at its heart this is a production about dreams, memories and allusions, a ‘mad surreal world trapped on a train’.  Because you know where you are and what you are seeing, and yet the production evokes a detached mental state, you find yourself hanging just outside reality.  Every blackout and movement jolts you back, only to be taken away again.  It is like drifting in and out of a dream.  And yet there are big philosophical ideas within the text.

I suspect that this is a very personal experience.  For me, this reflected some of the dreams I have, so it was very real.  Maybe others don’t get such an emotional reaction, and you’re left to marvel at the story or the technical genius behind this work.  Or the superb acting, especially from Laura Atherton as Amy, whose train it is.  Or the moving original music, or the fantastic visuals that evoke the sense of motion and activity on the train.

I would happily have gone straight into the next performance and the one after that.  This performance is so rich and so thought provoking that there will always be something more to find.  It is a remarkable work, technically brilliant, well executed and with superb acting.  Most importantly it stays with you.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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