The Girl on the Train at Malvern Theatres: review

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As the audience file into Malvern Theatres, a projection on the back of the stage shows a train window whizzing past the landscape outside. With the audience in and the lights dimmed, Rachel becomes visible in the window. The scene cuts to alcoholic Rachel in her grubby kitchen. Her ex-husband Tom tells her that someone called Megan has gone missing.

The Girl on the Train: the story

Rachel Watson longs for a different life. She takes the train each day and watches a ‘perfect’ couple through the train window, wishing herself into their lives. Whilst the novel tells the story from the perspective of several characters, the play is more closely aligned with the plot of the film. As such, the story is told purely from the point of view of Rachel, played by Samantha Womack.

As with any play, it moves notably faster than the novel it is based on. The starting point is Megan going missing. The lack of background does remove the empathy you feel for Rachel when reading the book. Without time to get to know her, Rachel comes across as a strange, interfering character who has no place getting involved in the disappearance.

It soon transpires that Rachel does have a place there. Her blazing row with her ex-husband’s new wife puts her in the frame as both a key witness and a suspect. A cut on her head and a blank spot in her memory lead her to think she has more information about the disappearance than even she realises.

The adaptation

From the moment the performance began, it was fast-paced and captivating. The audience hung off Rachel’s every word as each scene revealed another vital piece of information. For me, the pace was perhaps too quick. It made certain aspects less credible, including Rachel’s relationship with Scott Hipwell in such odd circumstances. As I already knew the plot, I could understand it. However, I was left wondering whether I would have followed the story if I hadn’t read the book.

That said, the cast and effects were excellent. Scene changes were quick and effective, with the story of Megan moving eerily through the plot as she appeared in people’s thoughts and explanations.

The cast of The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train is produced by Simon Friend, Amblin Entertainment and Josh Andrews. The adaptation was the creation of Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abeland, directed by Anthony Banks.

The star of the show, Samantha Womack is best known for her role as Ronnie in Eastenders. Alongside Samantha, the other female cast members are Lowenna Melrose as Anna Watson and Kirsty Oswald as Megan Hipwell. Oliver Farnsworth of Coronation Street fame plays Scott. John Dougall is DI Gaskill, therapist Kamal Abdic is played by Naeem Hayattas and Adam Jackson-Smith is Tom Watson.

The Girl on the Train is at Malvern Theatres until this Saturday, 26th October. Following that, it will continue to tour around the UK next month. More information is available on the website.

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  1. This looks good. I adore Samantha Womack. Been a big fan of hers for years now. I enjoyed the book of this. That said, I fond it interesting that you questioned if you would have followed it without knowing the plot. Sometimes simple things can be missed when adapting into a show. I would have still enjoyed seeing this though.

    1. It’s definitely worth watching if you enjoyed the book. It’s carrying on touring so well worth seeing if it’s on near you, not least because I’ll be interested to see what you think of it!