Tuesday, April 23

Leaves on the Line – theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

I, like many English people who’ve moved to Edinburgh but still have family down South, am very familiar with the trainline between Kings Cross St Pancras and Edinburgh Waverley. This show focusses primarily on the lives of six people on one of the trains covering this route, as they all attempt to get up North for various reasons, such as hill walking, going to a hen do or (ironically) visiting the Fringe.

This feels like a quintessential, quirky Fringe show. It fits perfectly into the shorter run time and limited space characteristic of Fringe shows, never feeling limited by these restrictions but also never feeling like the show is too small or unambitious. This is a perfect fit for the Fringe when viewed from every dimension.

The highlight of this show is its score. Equal blends ‘Once’ and ‘Amelie’ UK score, the folky orchestration and music are elevated by having a live band which allows you to fully enjoy the songs. A tiny thing I really appreciated about this score was the presence of buttons at the end of the songs (The points at the end of songs that tell us subconsciously that it’s time to clap) – some of the other amateur ventures I’ve seen didn’t have these, leading to some rather awkward almost-clapping. That was never the case here – every song got the appreciation it deserved.

The strength of the performances on stage also really allow the material to shine. All the performers did amazing jobs from every perspective, from their ability to sing both individually and with each other (This show has some really nice harmonies), switch between ensemble and main roles and carry out some reasonably complex-looking suitcase/phone-based choreography.

I only have a couple of minor gripes with this show. Although the movement on stage was genuinely excellent and really exciting to watch, some moments in the show were let down a bit by the lighting design. This was particularly evident in a couple of the earlier songs where soloists, and in some cases the whole stage, were not properly lit so you couldn’t see the performer. In addition, the story surrounding one of the six characters, who appears to be running away to Edinburgh, isn’t quite as well fleshed out as the others. The performer does a great job with the material he’s given, but throughout the show it felt like it was building towards somewhere really dramatic, only to get resolved in a single (very good but fairly anticlimactic) song.

In summary, this is an excellent show that I am rooting for 100% both at the Fringe and in the future – this is not the last we should be seeing of it. Its score is excellent, the plot is engaging and wholesome, and it’s a delightful way to spend 50 minutes.

Playing until 20th August, further details and tickets can be found HERE.

Reviewer: Ella Catherall

Reviewed: 14th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★