The stage adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel takes to the Derngate stage in Northampton until Saturday 27 April.
The Girl on the Train centres around Rachel, the titular girl on the train, and the couple she sees/spies on as she passes each day. who turn out to be Scott and Megan. We learn that Megan has gone missing and Rachel gets involved in the search for her. Rachel is the lonely, alcoholic ex -wife of Tom who is now married to Anna, and they are neighbours to Scott and Megan – still with me? Good.
Samantha Womack as Rachel gives a solid performance, however it would have been good to see more differentiation in the scenes where she is drunk or upset. Megan (Kirsty Oswald) is a difficult character to get to know; there is a very moving scene where she describes the tragic events that led to her being the way she was – however the questioning interruptions of the therapist broke the mood. John Dougall as DI Gaskell gave a sincere performance and his character grew in depth as the play progressed.
The Girl on the Train made good use of the train carriage image with the moving scenes behind but some of the other staging decisions were not to my taste. The set consisted of three self-contained units – these units represented the three homes of the people involved; Rachel who lives in a small, shabby flat; Tom and his new wife Anna who live in Rachel’s former home which is far grander, and the final home belongs to Scott and Megan.
Some of the scene changes felt a little clunky especially when moving to the therapy scenes where the chairs were flown in, which felt very disjointed. Overall, I felt the set and staging was lost on the vast expanse of the Derngate stage and it would have been far better suited to a smaller venue. The lighting was quite dark and some projections, particularly the days of the week, were lost.
The Girl on the Train was reasonably engaging but there wasn’t as much of a sense of suspense as in the book.
Performance: Mon 22 April 2019, Royal & Derngate, Northampton
The Girl on the Train runs at Royal & Derngate until Sat 27 April. Tickets available by visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk or calling 01604 624811
April is a familiar face on the Northampton community theatre scene performing regularly with Masque Theatre, the Playhouse and Illusion Productions. She has also worked with White Cobra Productions, Peppers’ Ghost Theatre Company and Spears Indi-Theatre. April recently appeared as Mrs Banks in Barefoot in the Park and the Marquis of Pescara in The Duchess of Malfi both for Masque Theatre.