I love a whodunnit. Who doesn’t? So last night’s performance of The Girl on the Train at the Wyvern theatre was much enjoyed.

I confess that, somehow or other, this million-seller novel by Paula Hawkins and film adaptation starring Emily Blunt, had pretty much passed me by. Which is sort of appropriate if you stop to think about it.

The Girl on the Train

The train is a perfect vehicle ( sorry!) around which to build a thriller. So it’s not surprising that Agatha Christie (the queen of crime herself) made brilliant use of it it Murder on the Orient Express. Also, Ethel Lina White’s 1936 novel The Wheel Spins – better known as The Lady Vanishes – uses the conceit of a mystery centred around a train. I don’t want to say too much about the plot of The Girl on the Train but there are resonances between the two – in that each features a young woman who has seen something on/from a train but is persuaded by others that she hasn’t. In this play the central character, Rachel Watson, has doubt planted in her mind by her ex-husband.

How is he able to achieve that? Because Rachel is a drunk on a downward emotional spiral. One of several themes running through this play is that of domestic abuse – in this case gaslighting.

In this central role, Samantha Womack ( of Eastender’s fame) is entirely believable as a young woman depressed by her infertility and the loss of her marriage, her husband to another woman who IS fertile and has produced a child. She gives a strong performance in what must be a challenging role.

Here Samantha Womack talks about the role: https://youtu.be/oEAHU2YctHc

The rather nifty passing train effect on the stage before the play began: https://youtu.be/bd1MN5UIPX0

The Stage Adaptation

It’s always interesting to see how a book is adapted for the stage. I thought this was rather nicely done. The passing of the days and the changes of location in this production are smoothly executed. My companion for the evening, who as it happens, had recently finished the novel, thought the adaptation was rather good.

All the elements of a good thriller are there. There’s the requisite number of red herrings for a start. All in all a cracking play.

The play is running at the Wyvern Theatre until Saturday 12th October – so if you’ve got a free evening get your tickets and get on board!

Book your tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-girl-on-the-train-swindon-2019

The crime scene that greeted us on our return from the interval

The official trailer for the play: https://youtu.be/O2zY-9vJVHk

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