Review: Girl on the Train at Blackpool Opera House

There is a lot to be said about the voyeuristic society we live in and those flash  judgements we make in a second on what we see through a scroll of a screen.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 9:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 5:21 pm
Oliver Farnworth and Samanth Womack in Girl on the Train

Habit has become behaviour - it's a cycle of logging in and repeat. Do any of us really know the reality of life behind the screen we're actually consuming?

It sounds ridiculous one could become so absorbed in such a rigid daily pattern but then meet commuter, alcoholic and 'fantasist' Rachel Watson who boards the same train every day with nowhere to go.

Her sole purpose to explore her own imagination as she peers into the enviable life of a couple, who live just off the tracks.

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Through the window Rachel has built 'Jess' and 'Jason' into a vision of perfection, the ideal marriage, solid and loving, a couple who have it made, with a life many could only dream of.

But expectations do not reflect reality as this perfect couple in actual fact Scott and Megan are far from the perfect match . And their normality soon derailed and life disrupted when Megan is named a missing person and her whereabouts, subject of scandal and hidden truths.

Girl on the Train makes its final stop after a year long tour at Blackpool Opera House this week and the play an adaptation of Paula Hawkins thriller of the same name has been on quite a journey, excuse the pun.

There was a great sense of intrigue about the Anthony Banks directed production - early reviews were luke warm but this is show that has grown into its skin and a well seasoned cast in Oliver Farnworth as the slightly on edge and no so perfect Scott and the Adam Jackson-Smith as Tom Watson, Rachel's exasperated ex-husband.

John Dougall as DI Gaskill provides some much needed humour in a dense and dark dialogue as Rachel's life spirals out of control in black hole of her mind.

There is a very fine line for playing an able drunk, how to demonstrate a state of inebriation on stage, no one likes an overly slap stick character, no one likes an irritating one either.

After all most people are not really at their best when drowning their insides with vodka and this is where Womack serves Rachel well.

Rachel, the anti-heroine of the tale is not there to be liked, it would be peculiar if you did, but there is a need to be on her side and a silent willingness to uncover with her what those hollow and untouched parts of her mind are keeping and where the answer of this whodunnit actually lies.

Even without the stage flashes and wobbly moments of the set, Womack is so deeply immersed in Rachel, you become absorbed and hooked on what are mostly incoherent ramblings.

Her petulance hits the right nerves stirring the emotions of her fellow cast the slightly creepy, unhinged Scott, the arrogance of the deceitful Tom and smugness of not so able new mum Anna. And then those fleeting haunting appearances of troubled Megan.

The original story serves the narrative through three threads that of Rachel, the missing Megan and the second Mrs Watson Anna.

In the play there is only the one, Rachel is the focus and this helps build the intensity,she is on stage throughout both acts - her mind and mouth constantly on the go as the audience travels with her through the week to uncover the truth.

It's clever and it works. The silence of the theatre is chilling at times, the only predictable thing is the unpredictable nature of Rachel's erratic behaviour which begs the question is she the witness or the suspect? Where will she go and how does it end?

For those who have read the book and watched the film, this version is more in tune with the novel's storyline - is it a satisfying ending for those who don't it's hard to tell?

The small cast and single thread perhaps make it a little too easy but for a night of intrigue and thrilling theatre it might be worth boarding before the journey's end.

The show runs until Saturday November 23.