Review: The Girl on the Train - West Yorkshire Playhouse

It's just three years since Paula Hawkins' novel The Girl on the Train became a literary sensation practically overnight.

Jill Halfpenny stars in The Girl on the Train. (Richard Davenport).
Jill Halfpenny stars in The Girl on the Train. (Richard Davenport).

Within a couple of months of being published it had already sold a million copies and the following year it was turned into a major film starring Emily Blunt.

The best-selling novel has now been adapted for the stage with its world premiere at West Yorkshire Playhouse. What works well on the page doesn’t necessarily transfer successfully to the theatre, so this could quite easily have gone awry.

Thankfully it hasn’t and Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s smart adaptation is a hugely impressive piece of work. The story revolves around troubled commuter Rachel Watson, played by former EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny, who finds herself a suspect in a complex mystery. What makes this adaptation so impressive is that, whether or not you know the book or film, it still works.

It’s well paced and there are moments of levity that help lighten the mood. The simple, but effective, staging which revolves around a single set adds to the sense of isolation that pervades this clever modern fable.

As with any play, though, it boils down to the acting and direction and Halfpenny not only heads an impressive cast she steals the show. Her role requires a nuanced performance that keeps the audience guessing until right to the end and it’s one she delivers with great aplomb.

West Yorkshire Playhouse has staged some great productions over the years and it has come up trumps yet again.

Rating: 4/5

Chris Bond