scott and rachel

Oliver Farnsworth as Scott and Samantha Womack as Rachel. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The Girl On The Train

Malvern Theatres


Many, like me, devoured the thrilling Paula Hawkins novel with relish, but were then left disappointed by the movie that followed. So, reminded of that, I was leaving an open mind to how this new stage adaptation of The Girl On The Train would pan out.

It's got a big hitter with Samantha Womack in the lead role as troubled alcoholic Rachel, who is embroiled in trying to solve the disappearance of a local woman.

Womack, an established actress but better known for her more recent role as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, manages to make Rachel likeable but also with obvious troubles.

She gives a superb performance - but the show would falter without it as the storyline is so central to Rachel.

Impressive special effects lead the audience into this gripping play, which has edited the story but in a suitable way for theatre.

It's a good adaptation because first of all it keeps to the original setting of London (the transfer to New York in the film just didn't fit) and also has edited well to make it flow better on stage. There's also more wry comedy in the script than the book.

Some of the detail from the novel may be missing, like Rachel no longer having a flatmate, but director Anthony Banks never loses the momentum and there is a decent build-up of suspense and mystery.

There are nice touches too with flashbacks of missing woman Megan wearing a red dress that slowly migrates into black as the story and her situation develop.

Womack is clearly the shining light in this production and it's a fine choice by casting director Ginny Schiller.

As is the rest of the cast that are a good fit with how you imagine them to be. A world of beautiful people embroiled in jealousies and intermingled damaging relationships.

Oliver Farnsworth (Andy Carver in Coronation Street) is the suspicious grieving widower Scott Hipwell offering some romantic interest.

While Adam Jackson-Smith and Lowena Melrose as Rachel's ex-husband and new wife play out deliciously spiteful scenes with Rachel full of tension and black humour.

What this production does do well is add more emotion to Megan's plot and her history. Kirsty Oswald gives a moving performance that leaves a lump in the throat when recounting what has tormented her all her life.

For those who don't know the story, it's hugely enjoyable as a murder mystery with twists and turns and a wonderful antihero at its epicentre.

A good stage adaptation like this is a relief - just what a great thriller like The Girl On The Train deserves. To 26-10-19.

Alison Brinkworth 


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