THERE’S a beautifully fragile longing to Samantha Womack’s gripping performance in The Girl On The Train at The King’s until Saturday.
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KING’S THEATRE, Leven Street
Adapted from Paula Hawkins’ international best seller of the same name, The Girl On The Train is a cleverly layered psychological thriller with loss and despair at its heart.
As her life falls apart, Rachel Watson lives an alcohol-fuelled existence. Her only escape is snatched glimpses of the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, happy and in love. Or so it appears.
When Rachel learns the woman she’s been secretly watching has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself as a witness and even a suspect in a mystery she decides she must investigate, despite disturbing consequences for all involved.
Leading a strong company, the frustrations and fears of her character are well painted by Womack who alone is worth the ticket price.
Inveigling her way into the lives of complete strangers, she meticulously begins to piece together the strands of the Hawkins’ crafty tale.
Opposite her, Adam Jackson-Smith, Oliver Farnworth and John Dougall all prove great foils.
Jackson-Smith, as duplicitous ex-husband Tom, manages to bring just the right mix of detached compassion to his role, while Farnworth, one half of the spied on loving couple, hides a dark heart with effortless charm.
Dougall as DI Gaskill perfects the exasperated copper role to a tee.
Similarly, Womack is on fire when pitched against Lowenna Melrose as Anna, her ex-husband’s new wife, when they spark off each other, it’s electric.
Nameen Hayat and Kirsty Oswald are also strong in their supporting roles of psychologist Kamal Abdic and the missing Megan, the other half of the loving couple.
So far, so good, and with a sharp script, peppered with witty quips, the production is a fast paced slice of theatre that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Where it falls down slightly is in the staging. Technically there are niggles, which could easily be put right.
Blackouts allow for set changes from one location to another. Why stage crew are on stage to trundle the next piece into place before the blackout is established is a mystery, and an irritating one at that. Lighting too is muddy in parts.
Finally, the big dénouement is so poorly executed that roars of laughter greet a moment that should be one of shock, as the production slips momentarily into melodrama.
Those niggles aside, Womack’s heart-touching performance and the support she receives from the rest of the cast make this a gem of a piece to while away a couple of hours.
Run ends Saturday 30 March