The Train Tea Society
Presented by Flowers Theatre Company in association with Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway
May 6th -8th
The Train Tea Society was, in a word, charming. Flowers Theatre Company brought together a stunning cast of ladies to render a production that taps into the lives of women during the period of the first world war. The train tea society in particular were a group of women who served tea to soldiers passing through Ipswich. The performance was fun and warm, full of witty banter, gorgeous costumes and even a live steam train.
The Train Tea Society is what the Anywhere Theatre Festival is all about – bringing site specific work to non-traditional performance spaces. Set at the Swan Bank Railway Station, The Train Tea Society takes us back in time and immerses us in the world of the play through music, costumes and a fitting script. The only negative to the site specific performance were the obvious practicalities. With train station benches for seating, it was quite difficult to see any of the play’s action due to a lack of a raised stage and of course, the seats were not entirely comfortable for the show’s duration (roughly ninety minutes).
The run time of the show did feel a little long for such a limited narrative. Whilst the dialogue was witty and undeniably “scintillating”, the characters and storyline itself was quite predictable. The standout moment of the show saw a visiting cousin Margaret questioning the hard work that the Train Tea Society women did, which led to an interesting commentary regarding women’s roles. This was, for me, the essence of what the show was – or should have been, at least – about. However, the actors didn’t quite reach the emotional mark that the scene required and it fell just a little flat. Further, some of the writing came across as a little lazy – the resolution seemed to happen rather neatly and conveniently – but it was still an enjoyable script.
Overall, it was a good performance. The short season has unfortunately ended and sold out, but it would have certainly been a show I’d recommended to my friends and would now encourage them to see it if it is ever performed again. However, it found its perfect place in the Anywhere season. Where else could you get away with having characters enter stage on a live steam train?
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 6