Review: Missing the Train

Margaux Emmanuel 23 November 2020
Image Credit: Camdram

The CUADC online season kicks off with Missing the Train, directed by Cerian Craske. As I sat down in my room with a cup of tea, ready to embark on the journey of this mysterious ‘collaborative audio piece’ advertised with vague philosophical statements such as being ‘about the decisions we make and where they take us’, I did not know what to expect – yet this work did not fail to live up to my expectations.

Missing the Train provides a glimpse into a panorama of different lives in the form of various monologues, where characters struggle with different battles, yet which are all bound by the same overriding principle: the fortuity of life, whether it be its tragedies, its dark humor, the anxieties, or the glimmer of hope it provides.

The 45-minute radio play provides us with the lockdown escapism we need; the philosophical questionings that shape this audio play could have been approached with heaviness, but Missing the Train has a spontaneity, and yet a familiarity that made the experience enjoyable and fresh, as well as thought-provoking.

I did not know what to expect from the voice acting of this radio play – but the sincerity of Maya Goel, Archie Breare, Thomas Whittaker, Chakira Alin, Louis Davies, Ella Pound, Cerian Craske and Jake Stewart’s portrayals made the narratives all speak to fus in some way, exploring identity in a manner that breaks the fourth wall, literally speaking to us. With the ingenious choice, for instance, of Davies’ cassette-tape-like monologue, the audience becomes an eavesdropper as much as they are invited to engage with the monologues in an intimate way. In Pound and Breare’s section, the sounds of a crowd that enveloped their conversation, as well as the well-executed sound-effect of creating ‘internal thoughts’, depicted in an all too relatable way the awkwardness of social life, and the dissonance between whom we pretend to be and the person we really are.

Credit must be given to Hester Penny and Lily Blundell’s respective sound designing and editing, the slow cadence of the train chugging being the perfect frame to display the common point of all these monologues, a constant and evocative metaphorical reminder of the randomness of our lives, who we ‘truly’ are just being one ‘missed train’ away. The choices made were particularly captivating, making the transition between each monologue seamless.

Missing the Train revitalizes the online theatrical experience with emotional depth and originality. The narrative of this audio piece is our narrative as well – the unnamed characters make us question the things in life that make us become who we are, whether it be the viewing of Pride like in Whittaker’s particularly captivating monologue on the self and sexuality, but also the unrequited loves, the lies we tell, the cringe we feel, our relation with academia, the strangeness and fragility of modern life, of social media…

The CUADC online season is starting off strong. Missing the Train was an all-round success: well acted, well sound designed, well directed, thought-provoking and fresh. We are all a moment away from being someone else or from being our true selves, and Missing the Train captures the potentiality of the fleeting moment in a beautiful way.

5 stars