REVIEW: The Girl on the Train at Cambridge Arts Theatre - supporting actors steal the show

PUBLISHED: 23:35 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 23:46 23 September 2019

Naeem Hayat and Kirsty Oswald in The Girl on the Train

Naeem Hayat and Kirsty Oswald in The Girl on the Train


This is an intriguing melodrama. It has a gripping plot and an interesting twist at the end. But this production fails to deliver.

This is an intriguing melodrama. It has a gripping plot and an interesting twist at the end.

Sadly, with some exceptions in the supporting roles, the acting is wooden, the pace is slow, the lines are recited and it's almost a masterclass from the principals in how not to present yourself on stage.

Standing out is Kirsty Oswald as the victim of the piece, the missing wife, Megan Hipwell. Her description in the second half of a tragic event that will always haunt her is natural, moving and memorable.

And John Dougall as D I Gaskill the detective on the case is understated and amusing.

The Girl on the Train began as a best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins - a chilling read. It sold a million and a half copies within a few weeks. It topped the New York Times list of fiction bestsellers for 13 weeks.

It holds the record for the most weeks (20) at number one in the British hardback book chart and it became a successful film starring Emily Blunt and now a play adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel.

Rachel, the main character, (played here by Samantha Womack) has lost her job, her home and her husband and found the bottle.

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While he has remarried and moved his new wife into the marital home - and then completed the picture with a baby - she is living in a seedy flat (great set by James Cotterill) and is about to be evicted from that.

Despite having no job to go to, Rachel still catches the train to London every day. It passes the back of her old house and also the home of some people living nearby, further along the line.

They are Megan and Scott. They seem to be a much-in-love couple. She sees them embrace on the terrace. She imagines they have the perfect life that has so cruelly eluded her.

Then, the wife goes missing. Suspicion falls on Scott (Oliver Farnworth) and bizarrely, also on Rachel, who sets out to track down the truth, hindered, of course, by the fact that drink has blurred her memory. If she is accused of being somewhere at a certain time, she has only a hazy recollection of whether she was or not or who she might have seen there.

Without wishing to be unkind, before too long, the audience might well feel the same about this play.

The Girl on the Train is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, September 28.

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