Aug 9, 2023
Train Lord 'a Frank and Moving Exploration of Chronic Pain and Rediscovery' At Edinburgh Fringe
What happens when the one thing that has practically defined your life is now gone? All of a sudden, the reset button has been pressed: new job, new workplace… a new identity.
Such was the predicament of Sydney-based writer Oliver Mol who was struck with a migraine shortly after publishing his debut novel Lion Attack! in 2015. Mired in constant pain, only exacerbated by writing and looking at screens, he was forced to take a step back from his craft and find a new job at the railway. But even after making his recovery 10 months later, he remains in a state of denial. Prolonged pain begins to change you. He has forgotten who he was without that pain and starts to re-evaluate who he is.
Oliver Mol’s award-winning debut Train Lord takes us on an intimate journey of hope, resilience, and self-discovery in his brutally honest depiction of chronic pain. Immediately we are plunged into an anecdote where he recounts the relief he experienced when his migraine finally went away. His descriptions are striking in their visceral detail, leaving audiences feeling raw. Mol never shies away from the blunt and agonising reality of his condition so we’re always fervently invested, rooting for some sort of happy ending. In a way we’re almost longing with him as he tries to resume his way of life; drinking, socialising and just trying to feel whole again. But as we soon find out, it’s not that simple.
After such a prolonged period of agony, he realises this painful experience has radically altered not only his lifestyle but also his perception of life. Our heart wrenches as he relives his emotional turmoil with Mol giving us a passionate and undiluted performance. The empathy and investment stretch so far that when he recounts his stories about the strange happenings at the train station, you’re delighted to see the fond expressions on his face.
Practically all the anecdotes are filled with crude humour and expletives, adding to the play’s gritty realism while also guaranteeing chuckles from the audience. Balanced with impactful stories about life’s trials and tribulations, the show offers many comforting and uplifting messages about recovery, optimism, and perseverance.
The impact of the more sensitive anecdotes and descriptions is sometimes weakened by adding music which can sometimes drown out the speech and only detracts from the emotional weight of the story.
Despite this minor distraction, Train Lord excels in its frank and moving journey of self-rediscovery as he recounts the most challenging, yet transformative, period of his life.
Train Lord will be performed from 10-12 August at theSpace @ Niddry Street – Studio at 7:20pm as part of Edinburgh Fringe.
Words by Katie Heyes Independent UK