It is the taut psychological thriller that was one of the biggest debut novels of recent years, and I am glad to say that ‘The Girl on the Train’ which pulled into Wolverhampton Grand last night, has transferred beautifully to the stage, with a story that is tight with tension and intrigue. A talented cast totally does justice to the dark tale, especially the brilliant Samantha Womack as the girl of the title, this is an adaptation that pulls the audience in from the start, and never let’s them go.
Samantha Womack is Rachel Watson, the girl who travels to and from work on the same train every day. We start with her estranged partner Tom (Adam Jackson-Smith, the perfect blend of charm and menace) visiting Rachel to tell her of a disappearance of one of his neighbour’s, the beautiful Megan Hipwell. She disappeared on the same Saturday night that Rachel had turned up at Tom’s home to verbally abuse him and his new wife Anna (Lowenna Melrose, perfectly uptight). Tom wants to know if Rachel recognises Megan. She does, she’s a woman she has watched from her train every day, becoming obsessed with constructing a perfect fantasy life for her, and her husband Scott. With Megan missing, Rachel, in the fog of an alcoholic haze, and nursing a mysterious cut on her head, becomes obsessed with finding what has happened to the woman, who’s life was not as perfect as it appeared from the window of the train.
Samantha Womack is a revelation as Rachel. She plays the role as a woman who has reached rock bottom, consumed in the bottom of a bottle and struggling to survive each day. It is a fascinating performance, she makes Rachel a sympathetic character, and her chemistry with Oliver Farnworth as Scott is tense and compelling. Farnworth is also very good, he plays the wounded Scott in a raw, animal way, outwardly attractive, but also damaged enough to maybe do damage to someone else.
The tragic Megan is beautifully played by Kirsty Oswald, the scene where you find out about baby Libby is emotionally draining and she wrings every bit of emotion out of the scene. John Dougall as DI Gaskell, and Naeem Hayat as the besotted shrink Kamal are also perfectly cast, adding humour and emotion to their roles respectively.
I was concerned how such a detailed, classic story would translate to the stage but I needn’t have worried, ‘The Girl on the Train’ kept me gripped right until the very end. A satisfying piece of theatre.
The Girl on the Train
19th – 23rd March Wolverhampton Grand
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