REVIEW: The Girl on the Train (Winter Gardens, Blackpool) ★★★

The Girl on the Train is a play that centres around Rachel Watson (Samantha Womack); a lonely divorcee and alcoholic. On her train commute to work, she observes the house where her ex-husband, Tom (Adam Jackson Smith) with his new wife Anna (Lowenna Melrose) and their baby live. She notices a couple who live a few doors down from her ex and she is perhaps a little envious of them as they appear so happy and in love.

When a woman named Megan Hipwell (Kirsty Oswald) is reported missing, Rachel becomes aware that this is the same woman she has observed from the train. It also transpires she herself was in the area the night Megan disappeared, having had an argument with her ex husband’s new wife. Rachel has woken up the morning after bruised and bloody but because of her drunken state cannot remember what happened.

The plot continues as Rachel tries to fill in the blanks in her memory and she has flashbacks of seeing Megan kissing a man not who is not her husband. When Megan’s body is found this becomes a murder investigation lead by DI Gaskill (John Dougall). Rachel is questioned as a potential suspect and it becomes crucial that she sobers up and is able to recall events of the night of Megan’s disappearance.

I had read the book by Paula Hawkins a few years ago and had a vague recollection of the storyline but could not remember the ending. This is a complex story and it was unfortunate that the sound quality of this performance in the first half was poor and the dialogue on stage almost inaudible for those of us seated in the circle, making the plot harder to grasp. Other audience members complained at the interval and were invited to move to the stalls in order to hear better. The sound did improve in the second half.

I found some of the narrative implausible; Megan’s therapist disclosing confidential information to Rachel and when a body is discovered I don’t think a member of the public and possible suspect (Rachel) would have been allowed to chat with the DI at the site whilst the Scene of Crime investigation was on going.

The ending is quite spectacular after Rachel finally works out who the killer is, particularly the lighting effects as the murderer meets their demise.

I did like the projection images depicting the train journey (credit Andrzej Goulding) and the recurrent haunting music (credit Ben Ringham /Max Ringham)

As mentioned before, this play is a little hard to follow if you have not read the book or seen the film so be prepared to concentrate! (I found DI Gaskill’s summing up of evidence helpful). I think I will read the book again though…

Reviewed by Elizabeth Cowell

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