The Girl on the Train at the Duke of York’s Theatre
Based on the book that became a film and is now having its time on the stage, The Girl on the Train is a flat thriller peppered with questions that have been answered before. We follow Rachel, who is caught in an unhealthy cycle riding the train in the hope of catching a glimpse of her past life. She’s lost her husband, her house and her job and has turned to the bottle to numb the pain. Yet, when a neighbour mysteriously goes missing, Rachel’s memory, which is punctured by alcohol-stained blackouts and missing fragments, is all she has to work with. She tangles her way into the heart of the puzzle and hurdles towards its vaguely predictable resolution.
The sets are compact and to the point. The most interesting installation is a blurred train compartment whizzing across the stage – its fixed point is a window opening up to the anti-heroine on her quest for truth. Unfortunately, this dynamic structure appears only a couple of times. In effect, it simply serves as an image for exposition, but its attempt to underscore the destructive pattern is wasted.
Sam Womack as Rachel is a fraught force to be reckoned with and commands the stage wholly until she meets the investigator played by Alex Ferns. They spur off one another well and give the play much-needed life. Kirsty Oswald as the missing woman provides well-intentioned monologues that are bravely acted but would be better suited if used to fuel our anti-heroine’s psychological framework. Instead, they iterate a script that could use some reworking.
The third act could end a breath earlier. The Girl on the Train keeps you interested but never truly gripped. The stakes never feel high despite melodrama weaselling its way into the mix. Rachel is a self-destructive and complicated frontrunner whose play crumbles behind as she uncovers its mysteries.
Photos: Manuel Harlan
The Girl on the Train is at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 23rd July until 17th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.