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The Girl on the Train at the Churchill Theatre Bromley | Review

Oliver Farnworth and Samantha Womack - Photo by Manuel Harlan.
Oliver Farnworth and Samantha Womack – Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Paula Hawkins thriller is a contemporary phenomenon and I was intrigued to see how the story would be adapted for stage, the novel feels so reflective and the film so visual that it was hard to envisage how it could be bought to life. But both the stage adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel is incredibly tightly constructed, and Antony Banks’ direction keeps the pace fast and the tension taut throughout.

The story starts simply enough, Rachel Watson (played to perfection by Samantha Womack) is lost, lonely and watching the world through a train window and the bottom of a bottle. She develops an almost obsession with a couple she sees from the train, they seem so perfect, beautiful and in love. So when the woman (Megan) goes missing, and she realises she has information that the police don’t have, she infiltrates her way into the investigation hoping to help uncover what really happened to Megan.

The cast are all superb, each one creating three dimensional characters in what could easily fall into cliché. John Dougall’s DI Gaskill brings much needed light relief amid the angst and violence, and Kirsty Oswald manages to create a Megan that is both alluring and heartbreaking.

There’s some brilliant staging and set design in this production that allows us to move from train journeys to apartments to underpasses with a gritty, smoky noirish ease that adds to the entire feel of the play, and is perfect for the dark undertones of the story.

It’s curious why this particular story of obsession, gaslighting and emotional violence has been such a success. Maybe it’s the pace of the writing, the twists and turns of the narrative. The programme talks about the central themes of ‘loneliness and social isolation’, ‘the idea that everyone else’s life seems such a model of perfection’ our modern obsession with an ideal life, and that’s definitely a major element.

Or, maybe it buys into our desire to see behind the curtains of strangers houses, or our paranoia that we are all being watched. But ultimately this a story about one woman’s journey to uncover the truth about a mystery, her memories and ultimately her marriage.

It’s a great stage adaptation and a gripping evening of theatre – definitely worth grabbing a ticket.

4 stars

Review by Roz Wyllie

Rachel Watson longs for a different life.
Her only escape is the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, 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 as a witness and even a suspect in a thrilling mystery in which she will face bigger revelations than she could ever have anticipated.

Adapted from Paula Hawkins’ novel – an international phenomenon selling over twenty million copies worldwide – and starring Samantha Womack, this gripping new play will keep you guessing until the final moment.

Samantha Womack has starred extensively in television, film and theatre. She is best known for playing Ronnie Mitchell in BBC1’s EastEnders with leading roles in Mount Pleasant and Game On, plus the recent box office hit films, The Kingsman series.

The Girl on the Train
Starring Samantha Womack and Oliver Farnworth
Churchill Theatre, Bromley
MON 14 – SAT 19 OCTOBER 2019

New Victoria Theatre
Monday 28th October to Saturday 2nd November 2019.
Book Tickets for New Victoria Theatre


1 thought on “The Girl on the Train at the Churchill Theatre Bromley | Review”

  1. So enjoyed Samantha’s brilliant performance in The Girl on the train. We saw in Woking.. However, the supporting cast of men were not credible, and let her down, I have seen good actors who could play this role with more conviction, Such a shame as she is brilliant.

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