The Girl on the Train

8th to 17th September 2022

Paula Hawkins, Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel | Sutton Arts Theatre | Directed by Dexter Whitehead

Readers of Paula Hawkins’ hit 2015 novel ‘The Girl on the Train’ could be forgiven for wondering how on earth it could be adapted for the stage. The success of the follow-up 2016 film proved that there is a huge public appetite for the story but staging a thriller in a local theatre is no mean feat. Thankfully, the latest offering from Sutton Arts Theatre rises to the challenge to deliver an evening of thrills, shocks and genuine psychological intensity.

Adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel and directed by Dexter Whitehead, this gripping new play promises to keep you guessing and does precisely that. Having not read the book or seen the film, I was new to the story and can now understand what made it such a hit with readers and film fans alike.
Emily Armstrong brings a fevered confusion to the central role of Rachel Watson, an alcoholic divorcee who develops a dangerous obsession with a couple she sees from the train on her daily commute. The script, despite being a little clunky at times, weaves together a mysterious tapestry of scenes as we flash backwards and forwards to uncover the truth behind a woman's sudden disappearance.

The set highlight has to be a train carriage which swings down from the rigging throughout the play and works brilliantly with a fast-moving projection zipping along a rail track behind.

The seven-strong cast work well together to heighten the mystery and suspense. Scenes between Rachel and ex-husband Tom Watson (Richard Ham) are charged with bitterness, jealousy and resentment and Phebe Bland is a curiously ghostly presence as the missing Megan Hipwell in a series of flashback scenes.
Megan's husband Scott, played by Tom Cooper (also Assistant Director), is a brooding physical presence on stage. The violent scenes between him and Emily Armstrong are some of the most powerful. They are ably supported by Laura Hinton's Anna Watson, Tom's new wife, and Lloyd McDonald's therapist Kamal Abdic. An injection of dark comedy comes in the form of Mark Nattrass' Detective Gaskill, charged with the considerable task of putting together the pieces of a mysteriously tricky puzzle.

Whether you're a fan of the book, the film, both or neither, book a ticket and board the train for what promises to be a theatrical night full of mystery and more than a few surprises. All aboard!

The Girl on the Train is playing at Sutton Arts Theatre from 8th to 17th September 2022.