The Signalman adapted by Martin Malcolm to a fifty-minute Fringe Theatre production is a well scripted and moving credit to the original story written by Charles Dickens.
Tim Larkfield in the role of The Signalman delivers an impressive performance as he slowly mentally battles with the spirit that keeps appearing on the track. He attempts to work out what the mystery figure is trying to tell him as each time he appears a major incident occurs.
The harrowing effect this plays in the mind of the Signalman becomes all-consuming and he is left questioning what is real and what is all in his mind! Especially when the warning bell often rings without any reason and he is the only one who hears it.
I was completely taken aback by the phenomenal acting ability of Helen Baranova in the role of the crossing sweeper called Jo. To be able to perform a role in a two-man production with no written script assigned to her character this relied solely on her physical performance in order to bring the part to life. Everything she said was spoken through her eyes, from fear, warmth and a complete understanding of the whole situation as it was explained to her by the Signalman certainly captivated me.
The stage is dressed predominantly by the signal box a simple open structure which dominates the right-hand side of the stage. The perfectly timed train sound effects and lighting changes allows you to suspend your disbelief and imagine you can visualise the steam trains going through the tunnel as interpreted in detail by the Signalman.
Director Sam Raffal has utilised all the space available in the Bread and Roses theatre to breathe new life into this haunting and spine-chillingly classic tale. This is one of those fringe productions where you leave feeling really pleased to have been in the audience. Another brilliant example as to why Fringe Theatre should have bigger audiences.
Tim Larkfield- The Signalman
Helen Baranova- Crossing Sweeper aka Jo
Adapted by Martin Malcolm
Directed by Sam Raffal.