Samantha Womack as Rachel in her dingy, untidy flat and Adam Jackson-Smith as ex-husband Tom. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The Girl on The Train

The Alexandra Theatre


Rachel Watson is a functioning alcoholic and lives a life far from the idyllic life she used to live. She used to be married to Tom and together they hoped for a family but the future she mapped out didn’t go according to plan.

Now divorced, after tragically being unable to conceive, Rachel lives in a dingy one bedroom flat. The escape from her inner thoughts comes in the form of her commute. When she drinks vodka - disguised as a water bottle - on the rush hour train, she sees Scott and Megan Hipwell standing on their balcony every day as she passes by on the train, so much so that she gives she gives the strangers a fictional life in her mind.

Suddenly, when Megan goes missing, they are strangers no longer. Unfortunately, perhaps memory loss through alcoholism, or even perhaps something else, Rachel finds it hard to remember why she has unexpected bruises on her body, but most importantly, she can’t remember what she saw during the week of Megan’s disappearance.

The stage play is adapted from Paula Hawkins’ best-selling 2015 novel and it is also a commercially successful film. Director Anthony Banks showcases the thrilling story harnessing the tension into two mighty hour-long acts.

The plot is thick and gripping as we see altercations between Rachel, ex-husband Tom and his new wife Anna, as well as a more than friendly encounter with Scott, the husband of missing Megan.

The cast flow through the ever changing and impressively sleek set which adds a new dimension to the gripping drama while the interval comes at a most intriguing point in the plot, keeping the mystery going.

The thriller hosts a great cast, as well as presenting some clever visual effects. The stage production is a smooth transition from the written page allowing audiences to enjoy a piece of thrilling crime fiction, regardless of whether they have seen the film, read the book or not.

The cast never drop the ball on the palpable intensity from start to finish. Samantha Womack is brilliant as Rachel Watson. She is on stage almost every second and is the driving force in discovering the reason behind Megan Hipwell’s disappearance.

She is probably best known as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, and her experience and varied career certainly shines within the role of Rachel. Her striking presence is completely believable in every single moment, as we see her journey from the alcoholic without hope, to the fiery and ambitious woman desperately trying to be believed. She holds Hawkins’ story and Banks’ vision in incredibly capable hands.

Womack is well supported by a superb cast. Scott Hipwell, husband of the missing Megan, is played by Oliver Farnworth, better known as Andy Carver from Coronation Street. He takes on the shady role and is just as charming as he is dark.

Rachel’s ex-husband Tom, played by Adam Jackson-Smith is also great to watch, and the sequences between him, Womack and his new wife Anna (played by Phillipa Flynn) are intensely enjoyable. John Dougall brings a sense of dry humour with cut-throat one-liners as D.I Gaskill and Naeem Hayat as therapist Kamal Abdic is also a strong character.

The cast alone are a serious reason to watch the production while James Coterill’s set along with Ben and Max Ringham’s composition and sound designs add to the tension and atmosphere. Transitions are smooth and cleverly thought through, and with a stunning visual projection, given by the design of Andrzej Goulding, the stage craft enhances the shows delectable effects.

This show certainly makes for an entertaining evening. With creative technology, a tight cast and popular story, Banks blends the timeless murder mystery genre into a modern theatre thriller. To 31-08-19.

Elizabeth Halpin


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