Review: Imitating the Dog – The Train

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Image courtesy of Lancaster Arts

An incredible symbolic play that transports you into the darkest and deepest thoughts of Amy, the main character, who is lost in her train journey trying to find answers to the most abstract and yet simple questions. A mixture of real life situations with past moments of her life come together in one story with the aim of awaking a reaction from everyone of us. Are we somehow all in the same train?

When I was told about this play and after reading a bit about Imitating the Dog I could not resist volunteering myself to attend the UK’s premier and share my view and opinion about it. I am now facing a screen with a blank document that requires to be filled with said opinions, but the truth is that I cannot yet put them into words. The Train is nothing like I have gone to see at a theatre before, and it seems difficult to evaluate it in relation to previous theatrical experiences that I have had. In a few words, it has been one the most interesting plays I have seen, from the story to the characters, but it was especially the mise en scènce that caught my full attention during this forty minutes long train journey.

The first thing I should point out, is that this play could not be performed in a conventional theatre room, since the meaning of ‘train journey’ in this story comes to live in the way that the audience interacts with it. When I went to the Nuffield Theatre on campus, a member of staff collected our tickets and led the way to a train carriage in which only twelve people would be experiencing the story at the same time, in the same wagon, towards an unknown direction. We were asked to put special headphones with which we would hear the play, and then the train started to move….literally.

The journey consisted in a cyclical, randomly organised frequencies of the past of the main character’s story, making it difficult to follow at the start but that gradually became more relatable and easier to understand. The story is filled with poetical and philosophical metaphors that once all connected symbolically, result in very interesting allegory that make you think about the idea of time with regards to your own life and the ones’ around you.

I especially enjoyed the ambience they achieved with the film-styled projections on the walls that changed according to the scene, along with the soundtrack and the internal conversation that the main character narrated during the whole story. I would recommend this play to all those who have a special appreciation for old films or crime-based stories, since one should expect violence and drama throughout the play.

With only three actors that managed to embody different personal stages of life with different perspectives, it can result as a confusing dialog that can be difficult to follow, but as the story progresses, the ideas are brought together into a logical metaphor that can easily be related to from personal perspectives.

If you are a person who enjoys existential puzzles, quiet talks, crime and, of course, long ‘train’ journeys where you do not know where you come from or where you are heading to, then this short story has everything one would love. I personally will keep a good memory of it, and i could only wish this company the best luck with its debut in the UK.