London Theatre Review: The Girl On The Train at the Duke of Yorks Theatre
Posted on 31 July 2019
There’s a neologism – 'sonder' – used to describe the realisation that the people around you contain worlds of equal depth and complexity as your own. It's an idea that leads Rachel Watson to immerse herself in the life of Megan Hipwell. Sitting on her train, Rachel sips vodka from a water bottle and watches the many worlds and permutations of life passing her by. She longs for another existence – anything to escape the cold reality of a broken marriage and a dingy apartment orbited by satellites of alcohol. Until, finally, her daily ‘commute’ delivers her the ideal couple, standing on their pristine balcony in a globe of impeccable taste and perfect choices...
Unfortunately, Rachel’s fantasy is brought to an abrupt stop when Megan disappears, leaving Rachel as a suspect in a dizzying search for the killer. After her deep sonder, Rachel is at once hurled half-drunk into the entangled lives of several characters, while the audience follow her bleary-eyed discoveries, waiting for the hangover to clear and those vital memories to surface… what really happened that night in the underpass?
The slow tension has a unifying effect and incites a lot of hushed interval talk and suspect shuffling. Everyone assumes the role of detective, trying to solve the now notoriously difficult-to-unravel mystery. And yet without emotion this would all seem a little frivolous, which is why it's so vital to have a character as compelling as Rachel to drive the drama onwards. We will Rachel to escape her gaslighting and those who’ve destabilised her and filled her with doubt. It’s this sometimes suffocating core that helped Paula Hawkins’ international best-seller sell 20 million copies worldwide. It also helped the Golden Globe-nominated film in its huge box office success, with the powerful Emily Blunt (Sicario, The Devil Wears Prada) in the lead role. Onstage, The Girl On The Train carries that same heart-thumping humanity with all the juddering twists and intermittent periods of darkness – adapted for wider appeal by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel.
The play is wound tightly around the small cast, led, of course, by Samantha Womack as she descends through a thicket of lives with good intentions but muddied vision. Magic is to be found in the experienced cast. Rachel is played with force and brilliant comic timing (missing from the film) by Womack – best known for portraying the role of Ronnie Mitchell in BBC’s EastEnders, as well as appearing in Mount Pleasant, Game On and The Kingsman series... Kirsty Oswald brings sensitivity and pathos to a morally-conflicted character (prepare yourself for her haunting, moving monologue). Oliver Farnworth is also on great form, having lent his archery expertise to Arya Stark in the HBO giant: Game of Thrones. Together the actors distill a small collection of worlds so immersive that it becomes impossible not to sonder and fall into their intriguing depths.
Don’t miss the hurtling ride of The Girl On The Train, with its first-class cast and powerful drama, playing until August 17th at the Duke of Yorks Theatre.
This is your chance to take a seat and enjoy the ride. Book now at London Theatre Direct, with tickets savings up to £42.
Book tickets to The Girl On The Train and save up to £42!
The Girl On The Train: The Play is now running at full-speed in London's West End. Don't miss your train and be sure to catch this sure-fire hit before it is expected to close on 17 August 2019.