The Girl On The Train
Adapted from Paula Hawkins novel by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel
Simon Friend , Amblin Partners and Josh Andrews
Opera House, Blackpool
After the best-selling book and an award-winning film, you might be forgiven for thinking there was a limited number of away day tickets for a theatre adaptation of The Girl On The Train.
Proving otherwise comes this concise, efficient reworking, by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel, that runs smoothly on rails of its own making. This is its last stop on an extensive tour.
Samantha Womack plays the generally-inebriated central character, Rachel, left to travel by train too often when her addiction loses her a job. After learning that a woman she sees from her rail carriage each day has suddenly disappeared, she’s drawn into a murder mystery.
That initial premise—about just what is repeatedly seen from a moving train—might not be the best starting point for the stasis of a stage version. Especially for a story that also dabbles in what might be real, or imagined, in the psyche of a disturbed woman, and also relies on flashbacks throughout the plot. But by smart use of design, lighting, sound and other theatre trickery, it is smoothly conceived and remarkably effective.
Like the book, it’s a page turner.
Using a fraction of this venue’s immense stage space (it’s often a long walk off from the set design to answer a door!) Jack Knowles has designed any number of plausible settings. The vast auditorium here adds its own unintended echo effects but they are less of a hindrance than the occasional tendency to add mood music behind several key passages of dialogue. It’s enough of a distraction on television without now creeping all over theatre work as well.
Womack is accomplished as a woman manipulated, disbelieved and dishevelled. Not an easy character to earn audience approval. This role, and other recent musical theatre appearances, provides credentials well beyond Eastenders.
Reviewer: David Upton