Writer: Paula Hawkins
Adaptor: Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Able
Director: Joseph Hodges
Best-selling Paula Hawkins novel turned movie The Girl On The Train has gained fans everywhere, and thankfully the theatre adaptation also doesn’t disappoint.
A local community are put under a spotlight when gallery owner Megan Hipwell (Chrystine Symone) goes missing. It’s not long before the D.I Gaskill (Cavin Cornwall) begins to focus on alcoholic, people-watcher Rachel (Katie Ray), who enviously watches Megan from afar every morning on her train commute. With frequent blackouts and memory lapses, Rachel struggles to remember where she was the night Megan went missing – but does that make her a suspect? Becoming obsessed with the disappearance she frantically tries to piece together what happened that night, embroiling her deeper and deeper into the investigation.
This show is a classic mystery combining suspense, shock and salacious revelations. Working well on the small stage, the script holds weight, engaging the audience and allowing it to work as a standalone show for those less familiar with the original novel. With a variety of suspects in the mix such as husband Scott (Scott Hume), therapist Kamal (Kirk Smith), or local couple Tom (Tom Gordon) and Anna (Tori Hargreaves) – the wide-ranging cast do a good job of portraying their individual roles, while simultaneously supporting each other as an overall team. Occasionally some interactions feel a little too mechanically staged, so some more natural exchanges between the cast and the set would really help the fluidity of the performance.
The lighting design (Seb Blaber) and sound design (Sam Glossop) work fantastically in unison together to set each scene and build the tension, especially with their masterful depiction of the train that frequents throughout the performance. While this aspect is impressive, other parts of the stage feel quite sterile and stark in comparison. While the empty wine bottle strewn set works well for the first few scenes, nothing is amended throughout other than some police tape being added – which feels like a wasted opportunity for even some simplistic additions to break up the clinical ambiance of the set.
Although you might think that you’ve already had your The Girl on the Train fix, seeing it as a smaller scale theatre production really is a completely different experience, so it’s worth taking your own train journey over to Upstairs at the Gatehouse and being voyeur to this tense adaptation.
Runs until 3 July 2022