The Girl on The Train,
**** 4 Stars
“ An Express train of thrills!”
The 2015 best selling thriller novel from Paula Hawkins became a smash hit film for Tate Taylor a year later, now its been adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel. Telling the story of Rachel Watson ( a remarkable performance of depth from Samantha Womack) an alcoholic who rides a train aimlessly since losing her job. From the train, she fixates on the lives of her former husband, Tom Watson, ( a light touch and aft chilling turn from Adam Jackson-Smith) and his current wife, Anna (Lowenna Melrose), and their neighbours, Scott (Oliver Farnworth in fine form) and Megan Hipwell ( a physically great Kirsty Oswald), whom she idolizes. Megan worked for the Watsons as a nanny, but recently quit. Whilst on the train, Rachel spots Megan kissing a stranger and becomes infuriated at her. She leaves to confront Megan, but hours later she wakes up in her bed, covered in blood.
Thus, the scene is set for a complex web of lies, half truths and faded memories of questionable honesty thanks to abuse of both alcohol , physical and mental Natures. Gripping stuff for a thriller play to come to grasps with.
The production directed by Anthony Banks largely succeeds thanks to a highly committed cast, especially “Womack” who spends 95% of her time on stage and is engaging from the off, the audience is on her side as she tries to understand the things that have gone on that she has no memories off but knows she must unravel to get at the truth.
She is joined by strong performances from the entire ensemble especially Oliver Farnworth the newly widowed man who must not only come to terms with loosing his wife but also that said wife wasn’t everything she appears to have been.
The productions Set and costume design by James Cotterill works well and is inventive if a little clunky at times, which I suspect is more down to the rake of the King’s stage than the set itself. Mixed with eerie video projections by Andrzej Goulding all set under Jack Knowles perfectly lit lighting design this show brings the film very much to life.
With sharp and pacey direction that see’s the play zip along through the many twist and turns its ultimately a satisfying evening of dramatic theatre that never fails to engage and you will be taken in by the final twist in the tale that makes it, more than worthy of the ticket price.
If they could just get the set to play ball properly this would be a polished and slick affair that, that for all the bumps it remains a taught thriller experience with quality performances from all and will leave you asking, how well do we really know those we love most? Grab those tickets and step aboard this express train of thrills!
Simon Friend, Amblin Partners and Josh Andrews present The Girl on The Train, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 30th March. UK tour continues, visiting Theatre Royal Glasgow from 15th April then His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen from 3rd September 2019. For tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/girlontrain