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By midlandsmovies, Mar 5 2019 09:18AM



The Girl on the Train hits the buffers


Adapted from the 2016 film of the same name, which in turn was based on Paula Hawkin’s 2015 debut novel, Curve Leicester presents a new stage production of mystery thriller The Girl on the Train.


Replacing Emily Blunt from the movie version is a fantastic Samantha Womack (Game On, Eastenders) as Rachel Watson, an alcoholic whose life is torn apart by her bouts of frequent memory loss owing to her drinking disorder. As she travels to the city on a train, she envies a local woman she sees each day but when that girl goes missing, she becomes embroiled in a mysterious whodunnit.


Lonely and isolated and with her ex-husband now with a new family, the investigation turns to Rachel as she tries to fill in the blanks of the case, and her own memory.


The play opens on a small apartment and the production tries to instil a sense of seclusion as Rachel’s small flat is strewn with empty alcohol bottles that sees her ostracised from her previous life owing to her wayward behaviour.


Her ex-husband Tom (Adam Jackson-Smith) and his new wife Anna (Lowenna Melrose) employed an au pair (Kirsty Oswald as Megan) and it is she who goes missing. Possible blame points at the girl’s ex-partner Scott (Coronation Street’s Oliver Farnworth) or her therapist but we follow Rachel’s own rambling inquiries into the woman she envied from afar.


The film was a fast-paced thriller (see our review here) but something has sadly got lost in translation here. The excellent lighting - denoting which day of the week it was and a brilliant “black hole” metaphor – was unfortunately undercut by slow pacing and stilted and protracted conversations.


Womack holds her own though by appearing in every single scene of the play but the unreliable narrator, dream sequences and flashbacks from both the novel and the film were hard to translate. The show did its best with windows, balconies, smoke and mirrors to convey these different time periods but unfortunately if you didn’t know the work already you would struggle to follow the convoluted story threads.


Maybe some films (and books) are simply constructed too differently to work on stage. My previous review of The Shawshank Redemption (a book-turned-film then turned-theatre production as this was) had similar concerns about adaptation problems.


A strange sprinkling of dark humour helped lighten the mood at times but it sometimes grated against the more serious themes and undercut the tension as accusations were flying from all sides, including the police.


Womack however kept the whole thing from falling apart but the overall show felt like a missed opportunity. The final violent and intense scene showcased a brilliant three-way interplay between the main leads and demonstrated a spark and passion that seemed missing from the previous hour.


Alas, it was a little too late. With strong performances The Girl on the Train certainly didn’t lack a committed cast giving it their all but with everything else coming in as just “average”, this show was an admirable thriller but with far too few thrills.


★★1/2


Michael Sales


Catch The Girl on the Train at Curve Leicester from Monday 4th March to Saturday 9th March


Box Office 0116 242 3595


£32.50 – £10

DISCOUNTS*

£15 Under 16s

£18 16 – 26 yrs (with a free

16-26 Membership)

£15 Under 18 school groups

£2.50 off for over 60s and registered unemployed

15% off for Members

£4 off for Groups 10+




By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 08:22PM



Ghost the Musical at Curve Leicester


Based upon the 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film Ghost, this new musical version of the massive box office success heads to Curve Leicester as it starts a UK-wide run.


Taking its cue from the movie’s plot, this stage adaptation again centres on a young woman, Molly, who ends up in peril after her partner, Sam, is killed in a supposed mugging gone wrong.


As Sam’s ghost gets stuck between worlds he contacts a psychic who reluctantly agrees to help him to discover the dark secrets surrounding his death and to protect Molly from the dangers she’s facing.


Molly is played by Rebekah Lowlings and Sam by Niall Sheehy, and whilst they are no Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, their voices more than make up for a little lack of chemistry at times. Note perfect renditions of big stage tunes, group harmonies and sad solos were certainly delivered impeccably.


The film is stolen by Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-winning turn as Oda Mae Brown and the same happens here as Jacqui Dubois channels a similar performance but gives it her own twist as the oddball psychic. However, although Goldberg didn’t provide any singing Dubois’ fantastic Aretha Franklin style soul vocals added amazing flavour to the proceedings.


In fact, the show suffers slightly from showtune fatigue where the earnest but slightly bland moody melodies between the lonely protagonists, whilst pitch-perfect, were shown up by the edgier songs interspersed throughout.


In order to help Molly, Sam meets a ghost on a subway train and Lovonne Richards tribal drum rapping was a welcome addition as was Oda Mae’s gospel infused “Are You A Believer?” with excellent support from Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy and Sadie-Jean Shirley.


Also of note was the jazzy “You Gotta Let Go Now” from James Earl Adair and of course, we can’t not mention the legendary tune Unchained Melody. Aspects of the song are littered throughout – from the background score to an impromptu jaunty acoustic version – but the leads did themselves proud late on in the show when they delivered the full rendition.


And at that point the coughing began. A touch of flu in the crowd perhaps? Definitely not. The lumps in the throat were clearly growing and by the show’s poignant goodbye conclusion, there were certainly some sobs from the crowd.


A great rendition of a classic movie, the film’s main beats are recreated using good choreography and Mark Bailey’s superb stage design along with solid performances across the board. Although a few tracks fell flat, stick around to enjoy the quirkier songs and plenty of funny moments during a show which delivers plenty of spirit.


Michael Sales


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