You can’t beat a night at the theatre, can you? A chance to switch off, be amazed and learn something new. Last night I went back to my favourite spot in Brighton: The Theatre Royal. They’re currently showing ‘The Girl on The Train’, directed by Anthony Banks. I’ve heard of the book and I dipped my toe into the film (I’m sorry, I gave up after 15 minutes) so I didn’t have many expectations. Milly, my friend who I bought along with me, has read the book and was excited to see how it transferred to stage.
The main plot follows a broken down, alcoholic woman, Rachel. After a failed marriage and fertility issues, she goes slightly off the rails and starts taking train journeys into London, purely to ride past the house of Megan and Scott, who she’s created a fantasy life for in her head. Things get more sinister as Megan goes missing and the story unfolds from there. As I didn’t know the storyline, I was gripped and excited to find out where it went. In some ways, I think it’s clear that this was adapted from a book as there was a lot of detail missing- other plot lines I’d love to learn more about. Saying that I think the way it transferred to the stage was clever and the pacing was good. It explores themes of adultery, alcoholism, poverty, domestic abuse and fertility.
I’ve always been impressed with the set and design at The Theatre Royal. I found the set for this sleek and simple. Milly and I speculated about how they’d stage the train part of the play, I thought it was quite striking. The sets of the houses were well done and created a good atmosphere. I found the transitions really seamless and effective and the lighting was crisp and elegant. Usually, in my reviews at The Theatre Royal, I mention how incredible the sound quality is. I’m always impressed with the microphone clarity but in this particular play, they didn’t use microphones. I was sitting in the stalls so I had absolutely no trouble hearing every word and I also don’t doubt that the audience members in the back would have grasped each line. As an actor, I struggle with projection so I was really impressed. However, I personally think microphones would have worked nicely, allowing the actors to create more dynamic with their delivery.
The protagonist, Rachel, was played by Samantha Womack (The Addams Family, Eastenders) and I really enjoyed her performance. I liked her approach to an alcoholic, at times nicely underplayed and truthful. I found her vocal performance slightly one level but I honestly think that’s down to the lack of microphone aid. I found her to be truthful with some great comedic moments. For me, she stole the show in terms of acting ability. I particularly liked her moments towards the end, when Rachel makes discoveries about the crimes committed.
Another cast member that stood out to me was John Dougall (too many credits to list) as Detective Gaskill. He managed to keep the role light-hearted when needed yet also portrayed a truthful performance as a detective on a serious criminal case. Being completely honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with anyone else’s performance. Adam Jackson Smith, who played the ex-husband Tom, had some lovely moments at the start of the play and I think he was casting really well. No disrespect to the other actors, I just wasn’t blown away.
I had a really nice evening. I was really impressed by some of the writing, especially the comedy elements. I appreciated the subtle use of interpretive movements. The end scene, in my opinion, was completely unnecessary and it should have ended with the most shocking moment. If you’ve seen the film or read the book, I really think you’d enjoy this and seeing it all come to life in front of your eyes. If you don’t know the storyline, go in with an open mind and avoid any spoilers- I promise you’d like it. Thanks so much to Theatre Royal for having me. (my tickets were complimentary )