A review round up for The Girl On The Train at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

The highly anticipated stage adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel The Girl on the Train has opened to crushingly low star ratings and harsh reviews at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Paula Hawkins’ novel was an international phenomenon selling over twenty million copies worldwide. With a plot line that keeps you guessing right until the end, the play adaptation tells the story of Rachel Watson who longs for a different life.

A chronic alcoholic, Rachel’s only escape is the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, happy and in love. Or so it appears. When Rachel learns that the woman she’s been secretly watching has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself as a witness and even a suspect in a thrilling mystery in which she will face bigger revelations than she could ever have anticipated.

Read a round-up of reviews below.

The Guardian, ★★★

“Is Paula Hawkins’s bestseller unadaptable?

Joe Murphy directs an adaptation of the 2015 thriller with Jill Halfpenny playing an amateur sleuth drawn to the case of a missing woman.

Here you feel that an eerily compelling novel, with its multiple narration and Hitchcockian voyeurism, has been turned into a workmanlike thriller and you focus more on what is missing than on any minor gains.

It’s one thing to give female protagonists agency, but it doesn’t need to be detective agency.

Joe Murphy does a decent job of staging the action and Lily Arnold’s design suggests we are glimpsing events through an enlarged carriage window.

Jill Halfpenny captures well Rachel’s dogged determination to get to the root of the truth, Colin Tierney is sympathetic as the cop.

Hawkins’s book resists adaptation and should be left in the hands of enthralled readers.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

The Telegraph,

“Criminally bad stage adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s international best-seller.

Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s version is as appealing as a British Rail sandwich: it has the capacity to get up the noses of the novel’s fans and may leave such a rancid aftertaste it might put people off theatre for good.

They’ve hacked away the description, voyeuristic and self-scrutinising, that gives the writing its lyrical lilt – saving only a bare sprig for the end.

we’re confined to the same drab multi-purpose interior (styled by designer Lily Arnold like an elongated compartment)

Don’t say you weren’t warned: on all points, failure.”

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

The Stage, ★★

“Lacking in tension.

If you were coming to the production with little knowledge of the source material, you’d struggle to understand its popularity.

For most of the first half, the play feels like a particularly pedestrian episode of Law and Order.

Megan and Anna. They’re flimsy as tissue paper, and the men – Tom, Megan’s volatile partner Scott, and Kamal, the sleazy therapist – aren’t much better developed.

Major revelations are robbed of their emotional wallop and, given that the production is supposed to be a thriller, it delivers very few thrills.”

Natasha Tripney, The Stage

The Times, [paywall]

“Menace and tension are obliterated in a teeth-grindingly slow production that is about as exciting as rush hour during a rail strike

This is a train wreck. Paula Hawkins’s 2015 novel was a phenomenal publishing success.

The adaptors Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel have assiduously erased every element that gives Hawkins’s otherwise rather workmanlike prose its queasy, prickly compulsion.

They’ve done away with the multiple viewpoints and blurred identities in favour of endless static, shouty face-offs and painful dialogue, strewn with walloping lumps of exposition and weak jokes.”

Sam Marlowe, The Times

The Yorkshire Post, ★★★★

“Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s smart adaptation is a hugely impressive piece of work

What makes this adaptation so impressive is that, whether or not you know the book or film, it still works.

The simple, but effective, staging which revolves around a single set adds to the sense of isolation that pervades this clever modern fable.

Jil Halfpenny not only heads an impressive cast she steals the show.”

Chris Bond, The Yorkshire Post

The Girl On The Train runs from 29 May 2018 until 9 June 2018 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.