The Girl on the Train at the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham Review

26-31 August 2019

Reviewed by Katy Nettleton

A must watch, gripping until the end thriller with a plot that twists and turns keeping you guessing what happened until the closing scenes.

So, I must be the only person in the theatre tonight who has not read the book or seen the film! I do have the book on my e-book reader and have tried a number of times to get into the story but each time I could not keep up with the changing scenes and plot with only being able to read with pinched 10 minutes at a time here and there. So, I was not sure what to expect, I knew the brief overview of the story from the back of my book but did not know how the story would unfold or the ending and was apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. How wrong was I?

I cannot comment on if the adaptation for theatre and its close resemblance to the book is (Paula Hawkins’ novel), but for me it was perfect, and I will now read the book (reverse order I know).

I felt for Rachel Watson (played by Samantha Womack) who pulled on all my heart strings, her life was falling apart around her and her only coping strategy was to “pretend” to continue with her life, the commute to work and that the couple she saw each morning through the train window was true love, that there was hope for everyone. However, when Rachel finds that the girl Megan (who she had named Jess) went missing she made it her plight to remember what she saw that night, but she can’t complete the jigsaw with her alcohol induced blackouts, and she is not taken seriously by those around her. The plot quickly twists and turns, and you get chills down your back which is aided with the lighting, stage changes and music to bring you into the sow. It truly felt that you were watching a story unfold which had you experience all the feelings that Rachel was feeling on her plight to remember what she knew, in a jigsaw that would not match up. Rachel is an alcoholic, one that has big black holes in her memory, but wants to find the truth so much she pushes her boundaries in a melodramatic fashion and at times you felt her pain and her determination to find an answer.

The set was small but effective, the way in which the train scenes actually made you feel like you was on the train platform and looking in demonstrates the professionalism of this design, the intricate detail and thought being put into each element to put on a show that was moving and spellbinding. The way in which the “loved up couple” were shown through the train windows really added to the scenes although these were few and far between.

The way in which Megan (played by Kirsty Oswald) was introduced was effective, and simple. The little scenes of her being on the balcony, sneaking a last-minute hug from her loved ones and you felt her pain when the scenes unfolded at the counsellor’s you could feel for her and her need for answers.

The police investigation did feel a little, comical if I am being honest and that it was not the strength of the play. However, the way in which the Investigator (played by Alex Ferns) and Samantha Womack bounced off one another added a light-hearted element to the show and brought you back to this being a show.  

My only slight criticism is when the bright strobe lighting came on (second half), I had stars in my eyes as there was no warning it was coming, and this did take my attention from the stage whilst I adjusted my eyes!

Maybe it’s just me, but I love a show that you can become absorbed in and feel emotions that the characters are portraying and therefore would recommend this to anyone, irrespective of if you have read the book or not. It’s a must watch and was hugely impressive using a simplistic staging and relying upon the professionalism of the actors to bring the show alive.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).

The Girl on the Train is at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 26-31 August 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.

The Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS

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