Jumping the Barriers

There are many symbols of class division and expressions of social stratification in this country. I had not considered pistachios to be among them until I saw the look on Nathan’s face when offered some.

Never judge a passenger by his looks

Nathan’s more of a cheese and onion crisps and Pringles man. Actually, he’ll take anything he can lay his hands as long as he doesn’t have to pay for it, rather like the journey from Exeter to London. On the other hand James’ type would consider the nuts to be the must-have nibble on any journey.

The two men find themselves in themselves in the same train carriage. James is casually but respectably dressed, with headphones attached to his mobile phone and is comfortably settled for a relaxing ride with time to himself. Nathan is something of a disheveled mess in a tatty old coat who looks as though he might just be moving begging locations. He spends only a few minutes alone in a double seat before disturbing James’ peace and crossing the aisle to be with him. From that point on there is no escape; James is stuck with him.

The conversations reveal a classic posh-versus-plebeian encounter. From appearance through language to background, education and values these two are poles apart. Or at least that is how it seems at first. As the stations pass and the exchanges become more personal there turns out to be far more to Nathan than meets the eye. Meanwhile James’s shield is broken down and his doubts and insecurities are exposed. Ultimately the man who seems to have everything learns a lesson from a man who has nothing but is surprisingly knowledgeable and blessed with wisdom. Never judge a passenger by his looks.

Adam J S Smith has what it takes to cut the ‘Hooray Henry’ type. The look, and the accent fit perfectly as does the sense of initial repulsion he shows towards Nathan. He is less secure in delivery, where he displays uncharacteristic hesitancy. He is also given some lines reminiscent of dialogue from first attempts at devised pieces by teenagers preparing for public examinations. Here and elsewhere the script lacks polish and attention to detail. Conversely, Chris Daley’s scruffy scouser Nathan has all the confidence of a survivor with impertinence, wit and humour who can talk his way into and out of any situation.

Between them they form an odd couple whose encounter has some poignant moments and makes a mockery of attitudes to social class. Jumping The Barriers is not a groundbreaking piece of theatre but it has a certain charm and fascination. If viewed as work in progress it has plenty of potential. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

503 Theatre St


Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

The Witchfinder’s Sister

The Hope Theatre

Rat King

Brockley Jack Theatre

The Idea

Young Vic Theatre


Finborough Theatre

How to Survive an Apocalypse


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Jumping the Barriers tells the story of a chance meeting on a train between a young graduate and a homeless man. James seemingly has it all – a good job, a nice flat in London and a girlfriend who loves him. Everything is sorted. And that’s the problem. Nothing exciting ever happens to him. Enter Nathan, a streetwise scouser who is homeless and has just bunked on the train. Their short journey shows us how first impressions can be deceiving, how often we take a lot for granted and that we always have a choice.

Most Popular See More

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets