BWW Review: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Based on the bestselling 2015 novel by Paula Hawkins The Girl On The Train is a thriller that centres around what one woman notices on her daily commute. Rachel Watson is going through a lot of personal struggles and she notices a couple in a garden near her old house which her train passes. She gives them nicknames and makes up a background story for their relationship and then discovers that the woman (Megan) has been reported missing. Rachel attempts to get close to her husband in order to find out what happened to her and struggles to remember anything she might have seen that could help.
This play was one that I was particularly excited to see, having been a big fan of the novel. In 2016 The Girl On The Train was adapted into a film but I always took issue to the changes that had been made- particularly changing the setting from London to New York. The stage version remains true to the original text which I really loved.
Samantha Womack is excellent as Rachel. In the first act we see her clinging to her vodka-filled water bottle as if her life depends on it but coming into her own later on as the fog begins to clear and she starts to trust her own memories of the night that Megan vanished.
One of the many things that I love about theatre is how subtle touch can make such an impact. At first when we see Megan, she is a carefree woman in a vampish red dress but as the story unfolds and we learn more about the darkness in her life- black begins to creep into the costume design. There are so many thrillers where the victims are represented as one dimensional characters
The staging for this play is excellent and incredibly atmospheric. It would have been easy to go over the top with the design train but the simplicity of having just the passing window feels far more effective. Jack Knowles' lighting design flickers and creates confusion as Rachel tries to unpack what she actually saw that night.
The Girl On The Train is credited with sparking the huge rise in psychological thriller novels and it is easy to see why it has been so popular. The twists and turns in this story are unpredictable and it keeps you guessing until the very end. This is a wonderful stage adaptation with sharp direction from Anthony Banks that creates suspense and certainly does the writing justice.
The Girl On The Train runs at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 20 April.
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan