Adapted by Philip Goulding
from the Ealing Comedy screenplay by TEB Clarke
Published by Samuel French Ltd
M3 F2 minimum cast
M10 F4 maximum cast
New Perspectives Theatre Company (1997), Third Space Farnham (2004), Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch / Bill Kenwright / CV Productions (2005), Bruce James Productions (2010), Suffolk Summer Theatres (2015)
The branch line between Mallingford and Titfield is losing money and British Rail is intent on closing it down. In desperation the villagers exploit the 1947 Transport Act and decide to take charge and run it themselves - with a train resurrected from a local museum! As well as convincing the railway authorities that they are competent to work the line, they have to face problems from Vernon Crump who is set on providing a competitive bus service. All aboard for a rollicking evening of hilarious nostalgia!
Kate O'Mara and Steven Pinder in The Titfield Thunderbolt at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, directed by Bob Carlton. Photograph by Nobby Clark.
I found its dottiness an almost constant pleasure. Kate O'Mara takes to the stage to play a character undreamt of in the movie, the posh Lady Edna Chesterford,
whose grandfather started the railway. Her diatribe against the interfering little Hitlers who run England with their clipboards memorably captures the subversive spirit of Ealing comedy. For
collectors of cherishable English comedy, this enjoyably chaotic show is a real find. First class. (Daily Telegraph)
A big, gallant dollop of imagination. Engaging comedy. A happy evening, perfect for grandparents and children. And steam-train enthusiasts. (Daily Mail)
A little piece of old England was restored to the mantelpiece this week as The Titfield Thunderbolt started its run - with hilarious results. Sound writing and quality acting paid dividends. The result was a packed auditorium laughing and clapping with pleasure. (Ham & High, London 24)
What's clever about Bob Carlton's direction is that with only five actors it manages to twirl the audience into its own zany world. It's a fun evening and a romp in a very old, very British tradition with some marvellous theatre effects. What more could you want? (What's On Stage, 2005)
Bob Carlton's entertaining production. (The Guardian)
This inventive production. (The Stage)
Philip Goulding's wonderful stage version. It's all dished up with hilarious consequences. Very funny. A good-natured and delightful play. (Epping Forest Guardian)
It is not often the theatre provides an evening of unadulterated fun - but that is the case with The Titfield Thunderbolt. The talented cast, headed by the ageless Kate O'Mara, gently send up the old Ealing Comedy and it works beautifully. This is a production to please all the family. (Brighton Argus)
Bruce James production of Philip Goulding’s adaptation of the classic Ealing comedy screenplay by TEB Clarke for The Titfield Thunderbolt shows what you can do with five actors, a minimalist set – and a lot of goodwill (not to mention participation) from the audience. Gags about bureaucracy, jobsworths and the economic situation come over as applicable to 2010 as 1952. It’s a merit of the script that it’s imposible to disentangle Clarke from Goulding. Great fun. (What’s On Stage, 2010)
A definite crowd-pleaser. (What's On)
A feelgood night of theatrical fun. (Romford Recorder)
Charming and mischievious. Rattling good fun. The play is full of gentle humour and permeated with affection not only for the railway, but also for the era, with authentic and thoughtful touches of the 50s throughout. Chockful of running gags. Heart-warming. A joy to behold. (Farnham Herald)
Absolutely fabulous - that's the only way to describe The Titfield Thunderbolt. The play tells the story of a band of enthusiastic amateurs battling to retain their village's railway line despite Government red tape and the rivalry of the dastardly omnibus owner. The show is a must for everybody...excellently scripted...full of comic lines...the audience laughed continually...a comedy for all the family. (Chronicle and Advertiser)
Philip Goulding's adaptation captures the fighting community spirit of the original. A host of amusing, acutely observed characters. The play touches a contemporary nerve, enlisting the audience's imagination and involvement, and it responds with delighted support. This rollicking production is pure fun. (The Stage)
An evening of fun. This cheerful and delightful play.
(Theatreworld Internet Magazine)
Left: Paul Leonard as Clegg and Loveday Smith as Joan for Bill Kenwright & CV Productions. Right: Sarah Thomas as Lady Edna Chesterford for Bruce James Productions.
Clive Flint as Mr Valentine, Sarah Ogley as Lady Edna, and Harry Gostelow as Sam Weech in Suffolk Summer Theatre's production, directed by Mark Sterling.
Photograph by Stephen Wolfenden.
THE FERROEQUINOLOGIST’S LAMENT № 6
At Adlestrop and Ampleforth
Leaves lie on the line –
At Cockermouth for Buttermere,
At Luton Hoo and Swine.
The train is late at Bassenthwaite,
At Oyne and Auchmacoy,
Holmfirth and Hay-on-Wye, Haydock,
Ide, Knock and Hoy..
Oswestry, Usk, Mangotsfield,
Blyth, Bottisham & Lode.
Now no trains go from Edwinstowe
Or from Clackmannan Road.
At Ullesthorpe & Lutterworth, Pant,
Parsley Hay and Brock -
At Thornton for Cleveleys, no-one waits
And no-one winds the clock.
From Billingb’rough & Horbling,
Claypole and Commondyke,
From Daisy Bank & Bradley
And Irlams o’ th’ Height…
From Ecclefechan, Limpley Stoke,
From Box and Bamfurlong,
Audenshaw, Burra Tor, Banff, Bovey,
Birkenshaw & Tong.
From Brampford Speke and Bluntisham,
From Gresford Halt (for Llay),
From Diggle, Delph and Saddleworth,
From Nigg and Gaminglay…
From Campsie Glen, Heckmondwike Spen,
From Shap and Abbeydore,
Plympton and Pimlico,
Stockbridge and Spooner Row,
Kelso and Westward Ho!
Oh, we shall go - we shall go no more.
THE FERROEQUINOLOGIST’S LAMENT № 6 (Reprise)
And as she rolls across the night,
That ghost train makes the grade -
Through Campion and Cotton-grass,
Where once were sleepers laid -
Via Bryony and Bedstraw,
Thyme and Traveller’s Joy,
Through Rosebay and Meadowsweet,
Balsam and Bilberry -
Whistling eternally -
Titfield for Mallingford – Ahoy!
© Philip Goulding/Alan Edward Williams 2007
To inquire about rights and availability for professional productions contact, in the first instance, Philip at GouldingP@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
To inquire about rights and availability for UK amateur productions of The Titfield Thunderbolt contact Samuel French Ltd:
Agent: Janet Glass at Eric Glass Ltd 25 Ladbroke Crescent, London W11 1PS email@example.com