The Girl on the Train was a 2015 novel by Paula Hawkins which soon became a publishing sensation, with over a million sales in its first few weeks, and still holds the record for the most weeks at number one in the UK hardback book chart (20 weeks). It went on to be made into a film starring Emily Blunt, which was released in late 2016.
It centres on Rachel Watson, who turns to drink after her marriage breaks down but continues to be fixated by her ex-husband Tom, his new wife Anna and their baby and also by their near neighbours, a married couple Megan and Scott, whose seemingly perfect life she often glimpses on her daily train commute.
It has now arrived on to the stage in a rather thrilling adaptation directed by Anthony Banks. A brilliant performance by Samantha Womack as Rachel really does help make this a terrific evening. She perfectly captures the sadness, the frustration and loneliness of a young woman whose life has turned upside down, taking respite from her Vodka-filled water bottle amidst the confusion that begins when Megan goes missing.
The perfect couple of course are not quite what Rachel hoped and imagined them to be, as she discovers when she decides to try to find out what happened to Megan (a good Kirsty Oswald), whose back story is told through flashbacks including one brilliant, tearful monologue. An engaging Oliver Farnworth plays Megan’s husband Scott, and John Dougall provides moments of light relief as DI Gaskell who seeks to get through to Rachel and her muddled memory of the night in question. Adam Jackson-Smith shows both concern and exasperation as Rachel’s former husband, while Lowenna Melrose as Anna finds it hard to hide her distain for Rachel and her attempts to involve herself in their lives.
The staging was really good and time went very quickly, always the sign of a well-crafted play. Having not read the book or seen the film, I really was unsure of how it would end, which is exactly what you want from a convincing thriller. A slick and enjoyable production which will not disappoint.
It runs at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford until Saturday 13th July. For more information and to book, please visit www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk.
It is also coming to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on the 28th October and will be at the Duke of York in London’s West End from 23rd July.