A Good Service on All Other Lines

Thu 2nd – Sat 18th August 2018

reviews

Megan Denny

at 01:58 on 18th Aug 2018

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David Head and Matt Glover combine captivating storytelling and beautiful acoustic music in ‘A Good Service on All Other Lines’ - among the simplest, but also the most stunning shows I have seen at the Edinburgh Fringe.

This collection of stories of love and loss all revolve around London’s Marylebone Station. It gradually becomes clear that these apparently individual storylines are intertwined – think ‘Love Actually’, but with added trains and subtlety. The tales range from a woman running from her fear of heartbreak, to the perspective of one iPhone developing feelings for another, and finally to a bitter train carriage who struggles under the pressure of his family’s expectations. If you can’t believe that you will become emotionally invested in an iPhone’s love story, wait until you experience the power of Head’s delivery, the intelligence and wit of the writing, and the seamless accompaniment of musician Glover.

Perhaps the most emotional of the storylines follows the ghost of man who seems doomed to serve as a ticket inspector for all eternity – that is, until he encounters his (mortal) widow one night, and is forced to confront ‘things he fears’ and ‘things he wants’, with the help of a Venn Diagram.

The threads of the plot are tied up via the story of a young musician, who recounts the night when, in the darkness of depression, he nearly ‘did something he would have regretted’ on a platform at Marylebone Station. It is a truly magical moment when it becomes evident that a brief interaction with a ‘mad woman’ saved his life, bringing the show full circle to the first character of the play’s story.

Thanks to its sensitivity, self-awareness and sense of humour, ‘A Good Service on All Other Lines’ achieves the impossible: conveying an important message about the way we approach life, but never seeming preachy. Go and see this play, because everyone needs a gentle reminder to ‘enjoy the journey’.

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Verity Kim

at 09:36 on 18th Aug 2018

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Rarely in life do you have that experience where you have your hopes about humanity and love restored over the course of 80 minutes. Even more rarely do you watch a show and think, "Wow, maybe humankind isn’t absolutely irredeemable after all." Yet, against all odds, I was able to experience this precious moment of revelation while watching ‘A Good Service on All Other Lines.’ The show is an ingenious craft of storytelling intertwined with live folk music, centred around the theme of trains, and the people and objects on them. David Head and Matt Glover rediscover the lost art of storytelling, and it was refreshing to leave behind the narcissistic me-me-me tales that take up a large part of the fringe.

The small, dark room seemed to magnify the stories’ entrancing, magical qualities; their storytelling vanquished the shrivelled up, cynical side in me within the first couple of minutes. ‘A Good Service' parries its cheesy elements with its quirky humour, and defeats the cringe factor that always comes with emotional vulnerability by slowly building up the audience’s relationship with the characters in the story. The musical element really surprised me as well, and though it takes a while to reveal its true importance in the show, it is the glue that holds the individual stories together.

Unfortunately I can’t say too much without giving everything away. But if you’re looking for a show where you can recreate the unique experience of lying in bed at night, unable to go to sleep because you’re listening to a really fantastic audiobook, you owe it to yourself to watch ‘A Good Service on All Other Lines' – because I don’t know where else at the Fringe you’d be able to do that. And if there’s a book of those short stories I want them now. I would totally pay for extra content.

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