★★★ | The Girl On The Train -Sheffield

Based on the best selling book by Paula Hawkins, The Girl On The Train stars Samantha Womack (Eastenders) as Rachel Watson, a troubled woman who romanticises about a couple she sees from her commuter train window every day, as she imagines the life she could have had. When one of the couple goes missing, she finds herself drawn into the mystery; but the gaps in her memory and her inability to separate out reality from her fantasy leads to her becoming a suspect in the woman’s disappearance.

Samantha Womack is entertaining as Rachel and she is ably supported by a small but proficient cast. The set changes are fairly slick, the set is sufficiently detailed, and the lighting and sound design all compliment the mood of the piece.

But for a thriller to work, it’s the story that counts, and over the course of the first act, the plot developed nicely and pulled in the audience, with a narrative which blurred fact and fiction, and imagination and reality; but as the second act unfolded the story became increasingly convoluted with a few too many red herrings and clumsy plot twists for it to maintain its momentum.

Having not read the book or seen the film, I’m not sure whether fans of either will find enjoyment or disappointment in this play, but as a standalone piece of theatre, it is competently presented and entertaining enough, but not a show which I would imagine will go on to become a classic.

The Girl on the Train is at Sheffield Theatres until 29th June 2019 before continuing on its national tour.

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