The Way Station, by Christopher Paling

Christopher Paling - Way Station

10 Dec 85. R4.

A woman has the strongest sense of deja-vu when she sits next to a man on an express train. What makes her feel this way is a particularly evocative poem she had read. She decides to strike up a conversation with the gentleman and feels he would better understand how she feels if she reads the poem to him, which she does.

The express train suddenly makes an unscheduled stop at an unused station. The couple are told by the Railway guard that the signal is against them but he doesn't know why, so he has sent a runner up the line to find out what the problem is. The couple decide to stretch their legs and wander into the waiting room in search of a phone. There, they find a clock that has stopped at 4:10 p.m. which happens to be the same time the woman's watch has stopped. Also, the only phone they find is dead.

They decide to look further for a phone and find themselves in a peculiar nearby village. It seems all the clocks in the village have stopped at 4:10 p.m.....

With John Rowe [Mr. Bowler aka Eustace Cartwright], Joanne Pearce [Matron], Christopher Scott [Railway Guard], Gwen Cherrell [Woman in Tea Shop], and Jane Leonard [Nurse].

Directed by Clive Brill

Note: The following poem is read at the end of the play:

"Adlestrop" by Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop--
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop - only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

30 minutes


Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

Philip Edward Thomas was born on 3rd March 1878 in 10 Upper Lansdowne Road North (now 14 Lansdowne Gardens) and died on the battlefields of Arras, France on 9th April 1917. Thomas was educated at St. Paul's School and Oxford University and had an interest in nature and the countryside. An unhappy and solitary person, he earned a living as a writer and journalist mainly on nature issues and 19th-century writers. In 1913 he met the American poet Robert Frost who encouraged him to try writing poetry. Much of his poetry was written after he joined the Army in 1915 and was only published after his death although some was published under the name Edward Eastaway during his lifetime.

His poetry is predominantly about nature and is noted for its quiet, unstressed, rhythms. His work has a fresh, unromantic feel, often with a melancholic, solitary atmosphere.


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