Review by Hannah Fredriksson
Murder on the Midland Line is a farcical murder mystery set in the familiar landscape of the Transperth train line. Several people board the train but one doesn’t make it out alive, and time is running out to solve the mystery…
The set is spot on – a row of train seats adorned in the familiar Transperth pattern with yellow handrails overhead. In true Midland fashion there is loose debris over the floor and seats.
Our passengers board the train one by one, giving the audience time to get a sense of who they are. They are all feel like very heightened caricatures that you would expect to see in a murder mystery.
Dick Richards is our unfortunate victim. A pharmaceutical CEO who may have made a few enemies along the way. His fellow passengers include a nurse called Madi Sin and a tradie called Bobby Wood. There is also mumpreneur Sara Kensington-Rosé-Smith, who is both wealthy and entitled at the tippy top of her (not pyramid) triangle scheme. Of course she never lets anyone forget that she is pregnant and ready to pop at any moment. We also have Tabitha Titlock, a superstitious witch, and Henry Mank, Head Boy of East Guildford for Polite and Scrumptious Boys and editor of the school (electronic) paper.
Also aboard the train are Transperth officers Sal Moose and Trudy Gooch. It’s Sal’s first day on the job after failing at her dream of becoming a police officer, and Trudy is showing her the ropes. Conveniently for Sal she gets to fulfil her desire for detective work by interrogating all the suspects and solving the murder of Dick Richards before the train reaches the end of the line.
This is a show where literally everything you can think of happens; there’s a murder, a baby is born, a proposal, several dramatic reveals. There’s just a lot to take in and it's so much of a stretch that it's not really possible to suspend your disbelief, at some point you realise you just have to embrace the chaos. Despite all of this, the one thing that really threw me though was the fact that Sara was somehow able to give birth whilst wearing pants – and that’s saying something because that is not the craziest thing about this birth!
As the story unfolded it became apparent that it wasn't overtly connected to locations along the Midland line. A voiceover announced as each station was passed, but aside from the hospital being at McIver this story could have happened on any train line in Australia by just switching out the names of the stations and a nearby school.
Murder on the Midland Line is an interesting concept that could be refined further by showing some restraint. There were some loose ends that were not addressed, like why a millionaire was riding the Midland Line in the first place. The show had a chaotic energy that meant that some moments that should have been funny didn’t quite get the appropriate reaction from the audience. A little bit of subtlety and improved comedic timing could help this show shine.