Open Theatre’s latest production ‘Train Stations,’ written by Sam Cooke and directed by
Caroline Rauch follows a blossoming friendship between two strangers as they meet on a
train platform. The isolated and lonesome protagonist Bryony (Izzy Higgins) has just started
a new job and we follow her on her daily commute. We are invited to dip in and out of the
lives of others at the train station as Bryony plays witness to humorous, engaging stories.
Before long, she meets Adam (Zak Muggleton). I loved the chilling awkwardness between
“squeaky shoes” (Bryony) and Adam, which evolved into a friendly relationship as their
conversation delves into deeper topics.
Cooke’s dialogue between characters was engaging and relatable with references to many
modern topics, debates and issues including Covid, God, Trump, and the NHS. I particularly
enjoyed the discussion on conspiracy theories. The casualness of the language worked perfectly with the topics that were brought up and maintained a light hearted tone even within more typically serious topics . We saw first hand examination of gender inequalities in
the workplace as Bryony relayed her current treatment at work.
I spoke to another audience member afterwards who also felt the play was ‘relevant and
relatable, using the mundane every day to pinpoint difficult and interesting societal issues.
The thought provoking dialogue, combined with plenty of wit and humour, eliminated any
chance of boredom.”
Producer Amaamia Hussain did a brilliant job, the simplicity of the costumes conveyed
personal identities, professional vs informal, and gender differences which related to the
characters perfectly. The lighting effects were concise and the repetition of the blackout
sections whenever a train arrived at the station were clever.
Simple props such as the train station bench brought a focal point to Bryony and Adams
relationship and conveyed an intimacy which allowed the audience to feel as if we were in
the station with them. Although the play was limited to one background, it was effective, and
through lighting and dialogue, the audience were given imaginations into other stories and
on-going events such as the work office and Leeds clubs. Relatable content for the Leeds
student audience - provoking consistent laughter throughout.
The acting was superb, particular mentions to Izzy Higgins and Zak Muggleton playing the
two main characters flawlessly. Izzy portrayed her sense of loneliness superbly and both
actors displayed their subdued feelings for each other poignantly. Whilst their relationship
may have started off awkwardly, by the end of the play they were chatting about any topic
comfortably. Rauch’s direction was seamless at emphasising
their developing comfortability, nuancing body language and
Overall, the whole play was well constructed and effective. The story was beautifully written
by Cooke with a focus on Bryony’s loneliness transferring onto Adam as Bryony find a new
job and the friendship ends. The ending was bitter-sweet but left me engrossed and yearning
to watch it again.
Words + Images: Emma Gardner, she/her