Sussex

Southern Rail users' misery into musical Southern Fail

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Media captionSouthern Rail users' misery into musical satire Southern Fail

The trials and tribulations of Southern Rail commuters have been turned into a satirical stage show.

Southern Fail: The Musical includes songs such as "Imagine There's No Southern" and "Haywards Heath" to the tune of 1970s hit Echo Beach.

Director Mark Brailsford and writer Simon Levenson joined forces to create a musical that would "force the rail operator to reflect on its conduct".

It premieres in Brighton this weekend, with more dates in the pipeline.

Image copyright Mark Brailsford
Image caption The satire will have at least three shows, with hopes for more

The musical uses snippets of The Treason Show, a comedy sketch series running in Brighton for 17 years, plus new material.

Mr Brailsford, 51, said: "I like the Peter Cook quote about the Berlin cabarets which helped 'stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War'.

"Satire doesn't really change the world, but it can add its little 10 pence. It channels people's anger and shines a mirror up to the issue.

"It's insulting that Southern Rail refers to us as customers, implying we have the choice to use another rail service."


The plot

The musical centres around two commuters, who become friends and stand up to the firm.

It features songs including Imagine There's No Southern.

Another tune includes the lyrics: "Grayling's failing, Once again I'm late for tea. Grayling's failing, he's not bothered, and he blames the RMT."


The year-long dispute between Southern Rail and the RMT union and train drivers' union Aslef, centres around Driver Only Operated trains.

All deal negotiations so far have failed, and more strikes are expected, after the latest action was called off after the Manchester attack.

Image copyright Summer Dean
Image caption Mark Brailsford playing some music from the show at the Brighton Fringe Festival

Regardless of whether a deal is made, Mr Brailsford said they would never be short of Southern material, as "it was never a good service".

This year, the company was ranked lowest in a UK-wide customer satisfaction survey.

A Southern spokeswoman said the musical was written when industrial action meant the firm was having to cancel trains, but now they were in the process of "transforming and future-proofing" the service with "extensive infrastructure rebuilding and upgrades, new trains and technologies".

"We are still in transition but we are starting to see performance improvements and this will continue."

Image copyright Mark Brailsford
Image caption Actors Javier Rasero and Annie Harris with director Mark Brailsford during rehearsals

The show premieres at the Brighton Fringe Festival on Friday 2 June and Saturday 3 June, with shows scheduled for 10 June at Shoreham Ropetackle and 24 June at Brighton's Sallis Benney Theatre.

A crowdfunding page has been set up to try and take the show to other venues along the rail line into London.

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