Review | Laura Money
Have you ever felt like your commute was murder? Well, for these unfortunate travellers on the Midland Line, the murder is literal! The crew from Performing Arts Alumni Society (PAAS) bring a parody of the Agatha Christie classic to the smallest stage ever – one carriage on the Perth to Midland train. It’s a silly and ridiculous rollercoaster of a show, in which a murder, investigation, ‘arrest’, and resolution all occur in the time it takes to get to Midland. So strap in, play detective, and get ready for a journey with a cast of colourful characters you just won’t be able to forget.
Murder on the Midland Line is written and directed by Courtney Lee and it’s brilliantly done. It’s a giant lean-in that takes all the mystery and intrigue of the original and turns the tropes on their head in a pisstake worthy of Transperth services. The writing is a little clumsy in parts, not explaining everything so you may have to mind the gaps, but it is great where it counts – each character arc and the ‘final reveal’ neatly, if a little overtly, tying everything up. Naomi Raven‘s set is stunning! It’s a proper throwback to the dodgier days of train travel, complete with actual ex-bus seats, the iconic yellow poles, and various rubbish and debris reflective of the infamous train line. With a fun set, the cast are free to play with their characters and they dive into the action head first, using every centimetre of the stage.
A script as farcical as this with characters as larger than life as they are can only be approached with intensity, and every single actor rushes headlong into the fray. From Troy Coelho smashing out his four or five sentences before dying in an epically dramatic fashion, to Milli Higgins locking eyes with Bobby (Lachlan McGregor) and getting her flirt on the second she enters the carriage. Higgins is hilarious as ‘the nurse’ swishing her high pony around with disdain for everyone else. McGregor’s tradie is funny especially when tripping out – he gives the audience a knowing wink and really embraces the parody. Shakyra Baskeyfield is a crack up from beginning to end – as the #pregnant #blessed Sara Kensington-Rosé-Smith she can hear if you pronounce the non-existent ‘H’ and has the mannerisms of an entitled Guildford type down pat. Orla Poole plays eccentric old woman Tabitha Titlock and it’s her extra little touches to the character that make it a memorable performance. Each tick and twitch while not the centre of attention brings a nuance to the performance that could have been bland otherwise.
It is up to Sal Moose – earnestly rendered by Lucy Wiese – to discern which of the eclectic bunch of commuters did the deed. Stymied by larger than life Trudy Gooch, played by the ridiculously over the top Hannah Quaden, Moose tries her best to exert order on the chaos. Quaden’s enthusiastic portrayal of Trudy Gooch is hilarious. She doesn’t pull back and attacks the character full bore! Loud, brash, abrasive, and foul at times, Quaden is compelling somehow managing to take up all the space with her intense character. Speaking of intense, Matthew Jones is spot on as the spoilt Guildford Grammar schoolboy in a caricature of stuck up rich boys that needs to be seen to be believed.
Murder on the Midland Line is a promising start for these young yet accomplished theatre makers. The script is funny and clever, leaning in to its ‘Aussie-ness’ revelling in the cultural cringe. With farce that borderlines a dreamlike state, it’s certainly the most entertaining train ride you’ll ever go on! Next stop: success.
You can catch the train at The Girls School until 13th February 2022. TICKETS
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The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.