Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Train Lord, Oliver Mol, EdFringe 2023 ★★★☆☆

Content Warning: Discussion of Suicide

From dispiriting orgies to wacky train announcements, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into in Train Lord. Oliver Mol relays a breadth of life experiences from the tragic to the light-hearted in his poetic, often quite entrancing storytelling debut. His no-frills approach to recounting his journey from illness, through mental health battles, to catharsis and recovery offers up a unique and brazen glimpse into wellbeing that spares none of the grisly details. In white T-shirt and suit trouser,s Mol rocks back and forth across the stage in a broadly quite static performance. While some moments gleam in their revelatory, rhythmic lyricism, others fall still and fail to totally bring the audience totally on board.

It feels as though throughout the piece Mol is in transit, transition, and hoping to transport us into his recovery story with verse and through consistently hit poetic beats. He opens by describing how he sought to brighten up people’s monotonous journeys to work in his role as a Train Guard in Sydney. Waxing lyrical with station names he continually turns up the audaciousness of his announcements, eventually encouraging the whole carriage to snog a stranger. Quickly we see the veneer that Mol lacquers onto his journey begin to dissipate, as he reveals his experiences with suicidal thoughts, stemming from his recovery from a year-long migraine, and a difficult break-up.

Mol spares none of the details in his retelling, including describing his bizarre mixed experience taking part in an orgy with his best friend and their girlfriend. The total honesty and openness is refreshing and invites you to become a part of that difficult recovery journey. It’s a revelatory experience to get a bare-all expression of the throws between pain and pleasure that recovery brought him. Rather than campaigning on awareness of long-term illness, the piece is more broadly expressive, something more personal, and the aforementioned static nature of the performance style provides contrast of the rush-inducing journey that Mol takes us on through his words.

His tone of voice is natural throughout – rhythmic, but sometimes it fades into the monotone which disconnects the audience from the words after long stretches of time. A dance break halfway through is well needed to break up the sections of straight rhythmic delivery, but it isn’t particularly well integrated into the flow of the narrative. It seems as though even Mol himself felt the need to remind himself to break up the more anodyne sections of the piece. In contrast, the sections that followed the dance break which cover problems like systemic alcohol abuse and feelings of guilt felt by train operators when someone takes their own life in front of them are impactful, brave, and heartfelt.

It feels as though a little retooling might be needed to stop Mol from simply rocking back-and-forth through large sections of the piece, and provide something that is more visually and acerbically dynamic to maintain our attention to the important issues he raises, and his own personal story – which deserves to be heard. Adapted from his book that was published by Penguin – Mol no doubt has a strong future and his story of recovery is empowering and resilient.

Recommended Drink: Here’s a good reference for those who have seen the piece – grab a shot of rum, then a shot of tequila, and be a fucking legend.

Catch Train Lord at TheSpace @ Niddry St until August 12th at 19:20. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together novel-length reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them