The Girl on the Train at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Like millions of others, I loved Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel and was disappointed by the film version, being as it was set in America.

So when this stage version premiered at the King’s this week I was optimistic. Andrzej Goulding’s projection of the view from a train travelling through suburban London is just how I imagined the setting to be. But the view from the houses involved in the story is a different thing – the vista is nothing more than what looks like a sheet stretched (not very well) over a frame and is in complete contrast to the expensive-looking, and realistic, interiors. The curtains too are pretty cheap-looking and badly made!

Thankfully, there is nothing inferior about the performances. Though this adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel seems a little far-fetched - though we never really know how other people are thinking and behaving - Samantha Womack as the troubled character at the centre of the play dragged me down with her into the well of despair she inhabits. As Rachel Watson, the ex-wife of a man who left her for a woman she now stalks, the former star of EastEnders is a sad case, continuously hitting the bottle as she becomes obsessed with the disappearance of Megan Hipwell, a woman she used to see as she passed her house on her commute.

Confused and drunk, she nevertheless tries to find out what has happened to Megan, with the help, not always given freely, of Megan’s husband, played passionately by Oliver Farnworth, best known as Andy Carver in EastEnders’ rival soap Coronation Street. Adam Jackson-Smith also turns in a powerful performance as Rachel’s ex-husband.

Lack of view and shoddy curtains aside, James Cotterill’s sets, though moving around like dodgems at a fairground, create the right ambience and I particularly like the rail track, plus Ben and Max Ringham’s sound effects.

Megan’s (Kirsty Oswald) occasional appearances, apart from when there are flashbacks, seem a little odd, and the pace is slow, but I think this is a subtle ploy by director Anthony Banks, as in the second act I really did begin to feel uncomfortable as the enormity of the storyline slyly crept up on me and Megan’s fate was unveiled.
Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Girl on the Train is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Mar 30.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
capitaltheatres.com
The tour then continues:
Apr 1-16: The Lowry, Salford
Apr 8-13: Theatre Royal, Bath
Apr 15-20: Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Apr 22-27: Royal & Derngate, Northampton
Apr 29-May 4: Theatre Royal Newcastle
May 7-11: The Orchard Theatre, Dartford
May 13-18: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
May 27-Jun 1: Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
Jun 3-8: The Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin
Jun 11-15: Grand Opera House, Belfast
Jun 17-22: Theatre Royal, Brighton
Jun 24-29: Sheffield Theatres
Jul 1-16: Norwich Theatre Royal
Jul 8-13: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Jul 15-20: Oxford Playhouse
Aug 19-24: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Aug 26-31: The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Sept 3-7: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Sept 10-14: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Sept 17-21: Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
Sept 23-28: Cambridge Arts Theatre
Sept 30-Oct 5: Theatre Royal, Plymouth