REVIEW: THE MILK TRAIN DOESN’T STOP HERE ANYMORE (Charing Cross Theatre)

Ten years ago, I saw Tennessee Williams’ play Vieux Carre at the Kings Head Theatre, directed by Robert Chevara and it still remains one of my favourite plays today. So when I heard he was directing another Williams play, this time at the Charing Cross Theatre, I knew I had to go and check it out.

The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore is a 1960’s play that notoriously flopped in all its incarnations and is deemed to not be one of Tennessee Williams’s better works. Linda Marlowe plays Flora Gofirth, a once-famous model, now living in Italy, writing her memoirs and refusing to face her own morality. The play is slightly brought into modern day, with secretary ‘Blackie’ juggling ipads and mobile phones, trying to take down notation but apart from that, we appear to still be in the sixties. When a mysterious young man, known as the Angel of Death comes to visit, it is time for Flora to look at herself in the mirror and accept she is no longer the person she once was and succumb to her current situation.

The set is simple – a bed, a chaize lounge and a drinks table and each part is nicely used to convey different areas of the villa. The sound and lighting were a little amateurish and some fading in and out of sounds wouldn’t have gone a miss to help ease us in and out of scenes.

Linda Marlowe is barely off-stage throughout the play but sadly stumbles over most of her lines which becomes difficult to stay engaged with the character. Sara Kestelman has a rather small role as the friend but adds some light comedy to the play, showing that you are only as old as the man you feel! Joe Ferrera, is a little overpowering as the security guard and feels more like he is protecting a Kardashians diamonds rather than an old lady in the Italian countryside. Matteo Johnson is good as the Italian butler, rolling his eyes at Flora’s attempts at speaking the language and Sanee Raval does a good job as the Angel of Death. Lucie Shorthouse steals the show as the assistant who is on the verge of packing it all in and leaving.

The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore is a slow burner (like many Tennessee Williams plays) but once you understand the essence of the story, it is interesting to watch how things develop and ultimately come to a climax.

Worth a watch!

★★★

Reviewed by West End Wilma