The appalling poor service suffered by commuters who have to use Southern Rail is about to be turned into a stage musical. Reporting by JEREMY CLACKSON, transport correspondent, and BELLA BARTOCK, arts editor
The possible musical numbers that could be included in a musical about the dysfunctional railway service offered by Govia Thameslink Railways on the Southern network are manifold.
For instance, there’s the old Squeeze favourite, Up The Junction, for rail users who know that their day’s been ruined, usually by delays near Clapham Junction.
There’s The Wheels On The (Replacement) Bus Go Round and Round, a real winner with younger members of the audience, less popular with their parents.
There’s the Beatles Ticket To Ride (just no train to take you).
And of course there’s the timeless Abba hit, Waterloo. Although we believe that might be cancelled.
In fact, none of those numbers are due to be in the book of a new musical being staged at the Brighton fringe festival and promoted by the Association of British Commuters, though they do promise that a version of the John Lennon classic Imagine (as in “Imagine there’s no Southern, It’s easy if you try”) will be in the show when it is premiered this weekend.
The show is a spin-off production from Brighton satirists of The Treason Show – Mark Brailsford and Simon Levenson. The comedy musical tells of a commuter love story amid Southern Rail chaos – while in the background, a train company collapses and nobody seems to care.
Co-writer Levenson said, “I suffered the daily journey from Hove to Croydon throughout 2016 so was not lacking in inspiration when writing the show!
“When the circumstances around you are that absurd, it really just lends itself to satire. Commuters won’t forget any part of this crisis in a hurry and we really felt they deserved a bit of comedy relief and catharsis.”
Brailsford said, “The Treason Show has performed Southern Rail parody songs for five years already – and they have always gone down incredibly well with the audience. In the last 18 months of the crisis however, the reaction has been intense and anger pronounced.
“The Southern Rail crisis is one of those rare political issues that has affected absolutely everyone in our community – whether daily commuter, local business or part-time passenger. I don’t know anyone in Brighton who has managed to avoid the damage it has done.”
This week’s performances are from 4.30pm on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3 at Spiegeltent: Bosco.
Of course, in one cruel satirical twist, all the performances will probably require Croydon theatre-goers wishing to see the show to travel… by train.
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