The Girl on the Train
Theatre Royal Brighton
Reviewed – 17th June 2019
“the inherently flawed direction and script leaves us feeling a little short changed”
The stage adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel of Paula Hawkin’s smash-hit novel, The Girl on The Train, screeches into Brighton prior to transferring to the West End. It puts Rachel Watson, played by Samantha Womack, as an unemployed alcoholic who spies into her ex husband Tom’s home from the train and soon finds herself at the centre of a murder investigation. The victim? Her ex-husband’s mistress, Megan.
Rachel, who yearns for a different life is bitterly grieving for the one she has now lost. The plot is seemingly plucked from thin air as out of the blue, ex-husband Tom (Adam Jackson Smith) comes knocking at the door of her cluttered and untidy flat. He is investigating whether she had any involvement in the murder which happened on the evening she turned up at his house, berating his new wife Anna (Lowenna Melrose).
With crime thriller interest at an all time high with smash-hit TV shows like Broadchurch and Line of Duty, the production ultimately lacks genuine research and integrity which is a shame. The inspector tasked with the case incoherently deals with Rachel as a potential suspect and it doesn’t sit well. DI Gaskell, played rather too melodramatically by John Dougall, gives away confidential information and access to murder scenes which confuses. The relationship between suspect and police could be more intelligent, the psychological analysis of interrogation could have been a strong point but again, the poor writing fails miserably in it’s feeble attempt at being somewhat mildly realistic and poetic.
Director Anthony Banks could do more to raise the stakes within each scene, we are watching a murder investigation and so called ‘psychological thriller’ but yet I do not believe the majority of the performances or staging. The clunky transitions between scenes see Womack walk into a focused light for ten seconds or so with no real purpose except for masking a scene change and ultimately drops the rare bit of energy that is created in the scene before. Womack has a big task in carrying The Girl On The Train as Rachel is centre of every scene but unlike in the novel and film, Rachel lacks real character depth and likeability. I feel for Womack as I know she has the ability to carry a good script, but she is desperately underserved by the writers but supported by the rest of the cast (Oliver Farnworth, Naeem Hayat, Matt Concannon and Phillipa Flynn). One redeeming performance is Kirsty Oswald as Megan, her brief monologues are complex and performed with a real level of emotion and truth.
The Girl On The Train is a clumsy and poorly directed adaptation of a story which is somewhat of a literature phenomenon. Despite it’s stunning design by James Cotterill and admirable ambition, the inherently flawed direction and script leaves us feeling a little short changed.
Reviewed by Nathan Collins
Photography by Manuel Harlan
The Girl on the Train
Theatre Royal Brighton until 22nd June then UK tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue:
TO STAR IN UK TOUR OF
Flashdance – The Musical returns to the UK for the first time since 2011 starring Strictly favourite Joanne Clifton and singer-songwriter Ben Adams, and will arrive at Glasgow King’s Theatre on 05 August 2017 prior to an extensive UK tour.
Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton is no stranger to being at the top, as she is also a World & European Champion ballroom dancer, and is one of very few pro dancers to have won both the main Strictly glitter ball with Ore Oduba last year and the Christmas Special in 2015 with Harry Judd.
Joanne made her musical theatre debut in the role of Streetwalker in the UK premiere of the Irving Berlin musical Face The Music, for which she was nominated for an Off West End Award. She followed this up with a turn as Marilyn Monroe in the Norma Jeane Musical and then tread the boards as Millie Dillmount in the No. 1 UK Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie for which she garnered rave reviews.
She is now excited to take on her latest starring role as Alex Owens in the UK Tour of Flashdance. Joanne says:
“This is just another dream come true! I think everyone in the world whether dancer or non-dancer, as soon as they hear ‘What a Feeling’, remember that iconic scene at the end of the film and I’m so incredibly lucky that I get to do that every night in a UK TOUR along with fabulous numbers like ‘She’s a Maniac’. I’m over the moon! It’s another amazing opportunity in my musical theatre career and I can once again sing and act alongside dancing! I just hope the water’s not too cold when it falls on me!”
Ben Adams who will join Joanne on stage as Nick Hurley has been singing and performing since the age of 8. His career started as head chorister at St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, singing at royal weddings, touring all over Europe, recording 2 classical albums and frequently singing for the likes of the queen and the pope. At 16, he became the lead singer of the band a1, who racked up 10 million record sales, 2 UK number ones, 5 studio albums and toured throughout the world, winning a Brit award among many others.
When the band split, Ben took to the studio and is now a successful song writer and producer, working with the likes of Robin Thicke, Craig David, JLS, Ward Thomas, Sam Bailey, Boyzone and Alexandra Burke to name but a few. He also reached the final of Celebrity Big Brother, the Norwegian version of Strictly Come Dancing, and Master Chef in Denmark. As well as writing for other artists, he went straight to number 1 in the itunes charts with his classical album titled One Beautiful Mourning. His first solo album 1981 will be launched early 2018.
In 2010, a1 reformed and having successfully completed stadium tours in Asia and 68 sold out arena concerts across Europe, they starred in The Big Reunion on ITV2 and played arenas across the country. They continue to tour throughout the world.
Ben has also written a brand-new musical called ‘EUGENIUS!’ Which after a sold-out London Palladium performance, is set to hit the West End stage next year.
Ben says of taking to the stage in Flashdance:
“It’s amazing to be part of such an iconic story, and as an 80’s child I was brought up on this music so I couldn’t be happier playing Nick in the theatre production of Flashdance. Whilst I continue with my own music career and touring with a1, Musical Theatre has always been a real passion of mine, so to be asked to play this role, and to be working with such an amazing cast and crew is a real honour. I look forward to seeing you all out on the road in the coming months”
Additional cast includes: Colin Kiyani, Rikki Chamberlain, Garry Lee Netley, Carol Ball, Sia Dauda, Hillie Ann Lowe, Simeon Beckett, Rhodri Watkins, Demmileigh Foster, Emily Kenwright, Ameila Rose Fielding, Alex Christian, Matt Concannon.
For full tour dates and details please visit:
Joanne Clifton & Ben Adams will appear in Flashdance until 9th December 2017 – casting for venues in 2018 is yet to be announced