IS IT DESIGNED TO THRILL
The buzz word in theatre today is adaptation and ninety per cent of the shows I review, and I review a lot, fall into this category.
Normally I have seen the film or read the book ,whatever genre I may be reviewing, but I hadn’t read Paula Hawkins novel or seen the subsequent film.
I was viewing The Girl on the Train with a pair of fresh eyes and for what it was a psychological thriller.
Adapted from the best selling novel of the same name it’s sadly, as psychological thrillers go, not in the same league as a Francis Durbridge or Patrick Hamilton – the depth, characterization and storyline suspense just isn’t there – it’s just flimsy and rather workmanlike.
The Girl on the Train tells the story of Rachel, an unemployed alcoholic divorcee, who as a commuter becomes obsessively drawn to what she sees through the train windows on her journey up to town.
One morning she wakes up with a gash on her head and senses she has witnessed something but just can’t remember what, as alcoholism clouds her memory.
Rachel’s life is a car crash. Her marriage to Tom ended because she could not have a child, yet she still badgers him with drunken phone calls and visits his house to the annoyance of his new wife.
Her former neighbour Megan is missing and a police investigation under way so Rachel decides to try and shed some light on the disappearance. She turns amateur sleuth, and in an unorthodox way tries to help the police investigation to the point of becoming the prime suspect to murder herself.
Joe Murphy’s production is seamless and has pace. However it takes until the second act for the tension to build from a rather mundane story to a gripping thriller.
Lily Arnold’s design is brilliantly minimalistic. We feel we are looking at the story through a large railway carriage window whilst the painting that dominates the set throughout with its black centre reminds us of the missing link in Rachel’s memory.
Brilliant sound and lighting design move the production along and play a momunental part in its gripping climax.
Never off stage Jill Halfpenny (Rachel) drives this play. Her characterization is strong and believable – you feel compassion and pity for her – yet at the same time want to shake her into normality.
The Girl on the Train doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat but it does generate a few surprises.
Runs until 9 June at West Yorkshire Playhouse
Liz Coggins is a member of The Critics Circle