RACHEL Watson is a washed up alcoholic who yearns for the life she used to have – and the baby she can’t have – with her ex-husband Tom. Instead she is forced to look on as Tom’s life plays out with a new wife and baby.
As she stumbles her way through life post-Tom, her only escape is the perfect couple she develops an unhealthy obsession for, watching them through the window of her train every day, always happy and in love. Or so it appears.
When Rachel learns that the woman she’s been secretly watching has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself becoming a witness and even a suspect in the case, drawn deeper into a mystery that will unravel with bigger revelations than she could ever have anticipated.
Adapted cleverly for the stage from a best-selling novel and subsequent Hollywood movie starring Emily Blunt, The Girl On The Train was always on track to draw the crowds.
I’ll start with the positives – the stripped back set and use of special effects is a triumph in its simplicity. The production team of Anthony Banks, Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel pull off what might have seemed to many as the impossible stage adaptation – even the train depictions are ingeniously portrayed.
There were real moments of suspense, especially as the emotion builds in the second half, and for fans of murder mysteries there’s plenty of plot twists and turns to sink your teeth into.
The negatives – unfortunately (and it pains me to say this as I’ve always been a fan of her Eastenders work), for me Samantha Womack falls short in the title role. Far from The Girl On The Train, in parts the pace often felt more akin to a long wait for the train which never comes. Ms Womack’s unconvincing portrayal – and her relationship with many of the other characters – felt somewhat implausible on the whole.
And I didn’t find myself drawn in or caring enough about what happened to any of them. Surely this is a prerequisite of any thriller.
There’s a lot to appreciate in this production but it might fail to deliver if you’re an ardent fan of the book – or film.
The Girl On The Train is not what I’d call first class, but if you’ve already bought your ticket, there’s every chance you just might enjoy the ride.
It plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday. Tickets are available to book by calling the box office on 02476 553055 or by visiting: www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper.