31 hours

8 Oct

31 HOURS
By Kieron Knowles
Every 31 hours someone will kill themselves by jumping in front of a train. It is usually a man.
The action takes place on a Tuesday morning somewhere on the railways. The show begins and ends with the thunderous roar of a train passing through a station. The one that passes through a station without stopping. The one that allows a suicide to die instantly from the impact.
It is a strange curiously effective and poetical piece about the men who clean up the mess after people commit suicide by throwing themselves under a train.
I heard about this one day on the way to Brighton when there was an incident at East Croydon and all the trains to Brighton were cancelled for a couple of hours. The clean-up men were describing the scene on phone to the man on the gate at Victoria who was relaying all the gory details to me.
The play didn’t stint on the gore, but it was so beautifully acted by the four protagonists as they act out pieces of their own lives to us – things they would not admit to each other. Occasionally, they also try to get into the heads of the suicides and show how they think the guys were feeling – maybe they had sometimes felt the same. There are only four men in this play but many characters as the men take on different personalities, often making fun of people that hang around the stations.
They play around with each other, moving heavy blocks of stone from place to place, creating different patterns and using them as tables and places to sit.
The four men work at a cracking pace and the dialogue is impeccably timed with great humour. There is almost unbearable pathos which is never allowed to become mawkish.. The men must be as cheerful as possible because with such a grisly occupation they need to keep themselves sane. As they say, ‘somebody has to do it’. and ‘A job is a job after all’. The four quite brilliant actors are Abdul Salis as John, James Wallwork as Ste, , Salvatore D’Aquilla as Neil and Jack Sunderland as Doug . They are excellently directed by Abigail Graham. .
This all takes place in the Bunker, a new 180 seat theatre in Southwark. Street. The entrance is between the Chocolate Factory and the flat iron market place which is a delightful spot to hang out if you get there a bit early. You can get a drink and something to eat there and the small bar in the Bunker auditorium will sell you a small bottle of prosecco for six pounds.

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