ALTHOUGH their father has been falsely imprisoned for spying for the Russians, Roberta, Phyllis and Peter have a freedom modern children will envy.

This is illustrated in Exeter Northcott Theatre’s production of E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children adapted by Dave Simpson at The Lowry.

After moving with their mother to a Derbyshire cottage, the children spend their days roaming by the railway and waving to a stranger, an elderly male passenger. Played well by Neil Salvage, he encroaches more and more on their lives.

Their mother(Joy Brook) regards this behaviour as normal and encourages them when they befriend the Station Master, Perks. Stewart Wright, who has the opening lines, conveys a proud, kindly character.

The goodness shines out of both the mother who helps people less well off than herself, and her three saint-like children. So it is nice to see the mischievous side of Vinay Lad’s Peter who brings his siblings down to earth.

Millie Turner plays the eldest sibling, Roberta. She captures well the experience of a girl on the verge of womanhood.

Katherine Carlton’s Phyllis is charming and naïve.

Daniel Denton, the associate video designer, deserves praise for his printed backdrops and pre-filmed projections which convey the railway scenes so well.

Unfortunately, the lighting is dismally low but this could have been due to a fault which delays the start.

The predictably happy ending brings a lump to your throat.

*The Railway Children continues until Sunday, July 30. Tickets, are available from the box office, 0843 208 6000 or online at Star rating: * * * .