Brilliant play marks 50 years since Billy Line closure

DRAMATIC The former Hayling Billy Railway Goods Shed, now home of the Hayling Island Amateur Dramatics Society (HIADS) Station Theatre.
DRAMATIC The former Hayling Billy Railway Goods Shed, now home of the Hayling Island Amateur Dramatics Society (HIADS) Station Theatre.
Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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I SPENT a very enjoyable evening at the Hayling Island Amateur Dramatics (HIADS) Society’s Station Theatre to see the opening night of their latest contribution to Hayling Billy’s 50th anniversary programme, A Railway Journey.

When the team first approached HIADS, almost two year’s ago, their suggestion was that it would be very appropriate to put on some form of railway-related play in what was once the former Hayling Island station goods shed, which closed along with the rest of the Hayling Billy railway branch line 50 years ago this year.

What Laurie Noble and his team came up with was something imaginative and innovative, comprising two one act plays.

The first act is Still Life by Noel Coward, later to be immortalised as the basis for the classic railway film Brief Encounter.

Simple yet effective staging, along with excellent performances all round, created a wonderfully evocative and nostalgic tale of the angst of two 1930s lovers caught in the midst of a forbidden clandestine affair.

After the interval however we found ourselves brought right back to 21st century reality, with the second of the evening’s performances The Railway Siding, by Jonathan Holloway.

While I have long been aware of the strong reputation of HIADS and the talent of their volunteer players, last night was the first time that I had witnessed the quality of their work myself.

Suffice it to say this first live theatre experience far surpassed any preconceptions I might have had about an am-dram production.

I therefore heartily endorse it. The play runs until Saturday. Call the box office on (023) 92 466363.