Review: The Girl On The Train - The Theatre Royal Nottingham
There's dark and then there's The Girl on The Train.
You might be more familiar with the big budget film starring Emily Blunt from a few years ago than Paula Hawkins’ original best-selling psychological thriller. If that's the case then you might be surprised that the action at the takes place in the outskirts of London rather than New York. Our ‘commuter’ who sees her own idealised vision of perfection from her train window is played brilliantly by ex EastEnders actress, Samantha Womack.
As you enter the auditorium, a speeding train is projected onto the stage. In fact the production relies a lot on light. Light for dramatic effect, to signify the head lights of a train, to project images, and of course, as a contrast to darkness.
Having seen a production of The Railway Children that had no train, I'm always curious, if not dubious, as to how they're going to recreate something like that. It is after all, an essential part of the plot. It is where she sees the fantasy couple who live a few doors away from her ex-husband and his new wife. Downtrodden, separated, grieving the loss of a relationship and the child she'll never have, along with an alcohol problem she imagines their perfect life from the snatches she sees from the train window (almost a little like Instagram). Only everything changes when one day she sees something which is the catalyst to the events which follow.
Thankfully they don't do that sitting on a chair jiggling about thing to signify a moving train. No, the play is too dark for that. Have I mentioned it's dark? In fact the train is used minimally, relying on projection and sound effects to do the work. They use flashbacks to tell the story, which really works well and thankfully it's not one of those plays that you need to have read the book or seen the film to understand what's going on, which makes it utterly compelling. The tension is guaranteed to have you rooted firmly to your seat as you question who to believe.
Directed by Anthony Banks, the drama begins at the run-down home of Rachel. Struggling mentally and emotionally, along with untimely blackouts, Never once off stage, Samantha Womack gets across the loneliness and torment of the character, who, rather than being a stereotypical staggering drunk is more of a professional drinker who has learnt to hide it.
Adam Jackson-Smith is convincing as her estranged husband Tom. They are supported by a small but faultless cast which includes Coronation Street's Oliver Farnworth as the anguished and confused Scott Hipwell and Kirsty Oswald as Megan, who has the shows best monologue. John Dougall is the dour Scot DI Gaskill. Full of twists and turns, this is one thrilling journey you will not want to miss.
Disclaimer: Press ticket but my views are my own