Sunday, 18 August 2019

Stage version of blockbuster brings a new perspective to it

Stage version of blockbuster brings a new perspective to it

The Girl on the Train | Oxford Playhouse | Monday, July 15

YOU saw the film, you might even have read the book — forget all that, this stage version of The Girl on the Train is vastly different and superior to the celluloid incarnation.

Samantha Womack takes the honours as the gaslit Rachel as she struggles with loneliness, rejection and a drink problem leading to alcoholic amnesia.

She excels in the part with a clear voluble voice and manner — we completely believe in her hopelessness.

Samantha also does what Emily Blunt could not in the film — she makes a beautiful woman look dowdy and uncared for.

The Girl on the Train is a taut psychological thriller for the modern age and this production delivers just exactly that. Modern stage technology means that the train can be easily represented through video and projection designer, Andrzej Goulding gives us a believable image. But director Anthony Banks is careful not to overuse it.

It tells us what we need to know — that Womack’s Rachel Watson sees strange goings-on from her train window but is too drink-befuddled to make sense of it. Then the video is more or less laid to rest and a minimalist set takes over at no cost whatever to the drama.

We are led through the hopeless, joyless meanderings of Rachel’s failed marriage, her terrible insecurity and dependence upon drink. One fascinating image is a painting of a black hole surrounded by concentric circles which turns into a screeching terrifying tunnel during a video sequence.

There’s no point in revealing the plot because you probably know it anyway and any detail is a potential spoiler. Suffice to say that if you think you already know this story, maybe you do — but not like this!

Until Saturday.

Mike Rowbottom

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