THEATRE REVIEW: Girl on the Train @Theatre Royal

A girl goes missing and is found dead. There are 5 suspects but can we follow the clues to the real murderer?

IT’S not Cluedo and its not Agatha Christie, but this modern-day psychological thriller grips us every minute of its 2 hour traffic on the stage.

Based on Paula Hawkins best-selling novel and the Hollywood movie which starred Emily Blunt, it makes its audience gasp in horror and surprise and also inexplicably laugh at times.

The inappropriate laughter is caused I think by the tension of the piece, and there are comedic moments, which as we end up laughing at the tragedy of the drunkard are not quite what we should be doing.

The plot twists and turns but always centres on Rachel Watson, the girl of the title, played wonderfully by Samantha Womack. Bleary-eyed, unsteady on her feet, only semi-aware of her surroundings, Womack holds our attention every second she is on the stage.

She’s supported by somewhat stagey performances from her fellow actors – John Dougall for instance is the stereotype ex-drunk detective who suspects everyone and gets nowhere near the truth.

Adam Jackson-Smith is a highly likeable ex-husband who has a dark side. In fact all the characters have something to hide, some secret flaw that makes them all imperfect in this dystopic drama.

Director Anthony Banks moves the episodic scenes along at a high speed train pace and the scenic devices of the train, and the other locations are believable, backed as they are by a filmic soundscape reminiscent of a Hitchcock classic.

For those who don’t know the plot, I won’t spoil it for you, but enough to say that we are all guilty of building our own fantasies and then believing them.

Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel have taken a well-known and loved novel and a striking film version and converted them extremely well for the confines of a live performance on a stage.

You’ll be thrilled; you’ll be shocked and you might think twice about staring into other people’s lives from the windows of your train journey.

The Girl on the Train runs at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, June 22. It will later transfer to the West End.

Review by Brian Butler


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