Samantha Womack as Rachel, lost in her thoughts . . . and a bottle. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The Girl On The Train

Belgrade Theatre Coventry


As the audience took their seats, the stage was set with a bank of windows on a moving train, the urban sprawl visible as it travelled along the track through the suburbs of the city, showing the rows of identical houses, tunnels, embankments and industrial buildings daubed with graffiti.

This provided an apt visual precursor to what was to be an interesting adaptation of the best-selling 2015 novel by Paula Hawkins.

Scene one took us to the grubby, untidy, bottle-strewn kitchen of Rachel Watson, played wonderfully by Samantha Womack. It was patently obvious that she had problems, and sought solutions to these with assistance from copious amounts of alcohol.

A failed marriage, the result of her husband's adulterous affair, plus a catalogue of other personal problems led to her agitated, confused, irrational behaviour and her accounts of events she’d witnessed seemed confusing and convoluted when told to others she encountered on her journey seeking truth and credibility.

Her sanity was laid bare and in question throughout, given her delusional imaginations, but, was she really a fantasist or actually telling the truth?

As this is such a well-known story, read by many, it would be inappropriate to reveal too much detail and as with any whodunnit the element of surprise is crucial for audience enjoyment and entertainment.

However, the tangled web of deceit, lies and paranoia that surround the mystery of a missing woman at the heart of this play continues until the final tense scene. But the scenario isn’t all fantastical whimsy and probing accusations as some moments of humour pepper the production giving light and shade, leading dramatically to the revelations that surface in the closing moments.

Transitions from set to set and flashback sequences were smooth and the addition of atmospheric lighting and sound built tension when needed. The contrast between various rooms gave clues to the differing personalities of the occupants.

The excellent portrayal by Samantha Womak shone throughout the production but, although the supporting cast were good, at times, they didn’t quite nail the emotional characterisation and were rather two dimensional, losing some of the tension that was key to this psychological drama. This didn’t detract from the overall presentation and one felt the audience were appreciative, giving generous applause at the curtain.

Directed by Anthony Banks, the cast included, Oliver Farnworth, John Dougall, Naeem Hayat, Adam Jackson-Smith, Lowenna Melrose and Kirsty Oswald.

Often, a book doesn’t transfer well to stage or film and comments overheard from audience members were varying in opinion regarding this, but, for a thought provoking couple of hours of viewing this mysterious thriller is worthy of a seat on the train. To 18-05-19

Elizabeth M Smith and Rosemary Manjunath


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