The Girl on the Train Review | The Lowry | Manchester
The Girl on a Train’s character-focused narrative brings an eerily silent production to the Lowry stage. Mixing a void black background, swooping set pieces and involving the use of projectors, audiences follow antihero, Rachel Watson as she retraces and reimagines her steps through a missing person case.
The shows driving force is an unlikely and unreliable observer who appears to be the last eyewitness to a possible abduction. The story is fleshed out through the eyes of Rachel, an alcoholic commuter who catches daily glimpses of a picture-perfect couple from the window of her train. Rachel begins her own investigation after discovering the vicarious couple she spies on require her help. The alcoholics unlikely adventure combines detective skills more questionable than Scrappy-Doo as scattered clues into her own life and revelations surrounding the case are eventually revealed through Rachel’s hazy, intoxicated memories.
Fresh delights are brought into the new theatre adaptation as director Anthony Banks concentrates on the emotional and gripping performances from the fantastic cast. Its bare bones staging with minimal music cues deepens Rachel’s surroundings and keeps the atmosphere tense throughout the production.
EastEnders alumni, Samantha Womack (Rachel Watson) barely has a moment off stage throughout the entire performance, but as the production has removed the novels drawn out and judgemental monologues the audience is offered an insecure and slimline representation of Rachel’s behaviour. Highlighting her temperamental and warped mindset, the production plays with digital projections of faces within her mirror, unravelling black holes on her walls and drop-down set pieces to manipulate her whereabouts.
Effective in its slow and steady reveals, the slimline designs allow the story to focus on character flaws as the ghostly Rachel floats in and out of scenes with questionable motives. Twenty million copies of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on a Train have already been sold alongside the popular adapted film starring Emily Blunt, so its ending is not likely to be a mystery to many. However, the stage production is a standalone story that offers a bumper pack of whodunnit fun for fans. Taking on themes of Hawkins’ novel in interesting and unexpected ways, fans and the unfamiliar of the narrative will be kept engaged in this slow-moving and suspenseful thriller.